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The Last of the Ten Commandments

Yitro (Exodus 18-20 )

by Rabbi Ron Jawary

The last of the Ten Commandments is "Don't envy." Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (19th century, Germany) points out that the Ten Commandments make a progression from thought (the first two) to speech and action (the next seven), culminating with our inner desires and feelings (the last one, Don’t envy).

He points out that it is essential for our religious beliefs to empower us to control ourselves in the face of temptation. As long as religion only aims at the letter of the law – at the appearance of correctness – without helping us develop an inner conviction of the soul, we are liable to make major mistakes. That's one of the reasons why the mitzvah of "Don't envy" is in the Ten Commandments. The Torah can helps refine our character to become not only people who do not do something wrong, but people who cannot do something wrong.

The Torah serves to guide us toward becoming better people who are too big to even think badly about others, empowering us to want good for others and to live a life of true blessing, where our external actions and our internal beings are in unison with one another.

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