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The application of the Ten Commandments handed to Moses, written by the Hand of God in stone can make all the difference in the world when it comes to us living in peace and harmony with ourselves and with our fellow man. The last of these Ten Commandments is the pinnacle of them all. It says: You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor any thing that is your neighbor’s.
To covet means to desire wrongfully or to the extreme and without regard for the rights of others. The notion of jealousy is not new; in Genesis, we read the story of the first two children born on earth, Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam and Eve. Here’s what it says. “And in time Cain brought an offering to the LORD from the fruit of the ground. And Abel also brought, from the first fruits of his flock with its fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering; but He didn’t respect Cain and his offering. So, Cain grew very angry, and his face fell. And God said, if you do well, couldn’t you lift it up? and if you don’t do well, sin and its desire is waiting at the door, but you may rule over it.’” That last phrase is important. We have been given the gift of Free Will. That means we can choose what we to do. Cain decided to allow his jealousy to fester within to the point that he committed premediated murder.
What was wrong with Cain’s offering? What made him so jealous? Cain was jealous because God accepted Abel’s offering and not his. But let’s examine the offerings a little closer. It says that Abel brought the fruit fruit, the best of his flock while Cain just brought “an” offering. This clearly demonstrations their kavanah, the intention of their hearts.
Coveting or jealousy is a disease of the soul which is obviously bad enough to warrant being the final of the Ten Commandments. It doesn’t say that “to desire” is wrong. Have you heard the expression “money is the root of all evil”? Money itself is not the root of all evil…it’s the “love” of money. The bottom line is always our kavanah, our intention. There’s nothing wrong with having a healthy desire to have nice things but if we become obsessed by it and driven to the point that we want to take from others what think we deserve without earning it, that’s when it becomes dangerous. Believing that the “end justifies the means” leads to the downfall of society.
The root of most of the troubles in the world today stem from greed. We may convince ourselves that we deserve more or are better than others, but a truly happy person is one who is rejoices with what he has, as is written in Pirkei Avot, the Ethics of the Fathers.
So how do we stop ourselves from being jealous when it is second nature to us. It’s a daily battle but one we must win. We can start by appreciating all that we have and who we are, instead of focusing on what others have and what we lack. It takes practice and daily training the mind to change the way we think. We take so much for granted. We have these two holes in our face called our eyes through which we can see the world yet how often do we stop to appreciate and give thanks for that simple miracle? Being jealous of what others have or do, instead of being happy for them is the opposite of love. It’s important to learn to love ourselves before we can love anyone else. Think of how often we compare ourselves to someone else wishing that we had what they had, or were more like them, or did what they do, or looked like them…instead of seeing how special we are. If we are going to compare ourselves with anyone, let it be with ourselves. Have we improved? Are we growing and learning? Are we better than we were or are we worse?
We can’t expect to change other people. We can’t shove these Commandments down anyone throats. But we can change ourselves. That is a full-time job but well worth the effort because when we do, we effect change in those around us, one by one. The consequence of ridding ourselves of jealousy is having peace of mind and when we have inner peace and joy, that’s what we spread to others.
These Ten Commandments teach us how to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. That’s the cure for the emotional, physical, and spiritual diseases that are rampant in the world today. Everyone is offering bandaid solutions. So many people are saying that education will change things, but if we educate a thief, we’ll have an educated thief. The root lies in changing our heart. We need to work on ourselves with the help of our Creator, who handed us His simple formula for us to live in harmony on our planet. You and I can begin here and now. That is the only way we will heal this world. Is that important to you? If not, why not?
I would love to get your feedback as well as some other ideas on how you have worked on not being jealous. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be delighted to dialogue with you.
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