You shall not covet…

Texts and beliefs By Chazan Jaclyn Chernett 05th Jun 2019

The two versions of the Ten Commandments, the first in the Parashat Yitro, the second in Va’etchanan, (the book of Deuteronomy being a Mishneh Torah or reiteration) show a slight difference in order and language, although the message remains the same. 

What does it mean to covet? 

The word chamod is used in both versions of the Ten Commandments, and means something desirable, something to be craved or yearned for. In the Deuteronomy version, the word avah is also used, and has a similar meaning. 

Craving something that belongs to someone else is a desire that we each need to curb or control in ourselves. That ‘something’ includes people as well as property, but there is no room here to start unpicking this one! 

Self-control of our desires is the core of human ethical behaviour and Jewish teaching shows it as paramount! 

[This is part of the publication “The Ten (Masorti) Commandments.” The full booklet can be found here.]

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