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PARASHAT VA'ETCHANAN

In Parashat V'etchanan we read the second recording of the Asseret Hadibrot, the Ten Commandments. The Torah's version in our Parasha is almost exactly the same as that recorded in Parashat Yitro, with some slight, but very significant, differences. The most famous distinction between the two refers to the fourth commandment, to fulfill the Mitzvot Asseh and Lo Ta'aseh of Shabbat, highlighted by the word change from "Zachor" [et yom HaShabbat...] to "Shamor." I would like to focus on another deviation from the tenth and last of the Dibrot.

 

In Parashat V'etchanan's presentation of the 10th Commandment, namely, not to covet the possessions of another--their wife, house, property, etc..-- the Torah adds another dimension which is counted as an entirely separate Mitzvah. The pasuk says: "V'lo Tachmod Eshet Re'echa, V'lo Tita'aveh Bet Re'echa..." And you shall not covet your fellow's wife, and you shall not desire your fellow's house... (5:18). At first glance, it seems strange that this pasuk would obligate us in two separate Mitzvot. To 'covet' and to 'desire' are, seemingly the same. Why the change in wording, and what does this change imply?

 

Our Hachamim explain, and this is recorded in the Rambam and the Shulchan Aruch, that one violates Lo Tachmod by pressing and pressuring someone to sell or give up an object they posses (and don't want to relinquish, even at a fair cost). Even more severe, one violates Lo Tita'aveh by planning in one's mind and scheming how to obtain the object!

 

Ki Ein Ta'avah Elah B'lev Bilvad!

 

It is true that one can violate one without the other, but the Torah teaches us a jarring and powerful lesson: our actions respond to what we place in our hearts and minds. If the mind fills up with jealousy and desire, the body will follow suit and, conversly, if the heart and mind are storing love and harmony, then our actions will follow with chessed and rachamim. By assuming possession of an object which is not rightfully ours we are, in essence, denying Hashem's ownership over the world. We are challenging G-d as the Prime-Mover of the order and events in our lives. We must fill our Neshamot with Torah and Kedusha, and our Guf will follow with the fulfillment of Mitzvot and not, Chas V'eshalom jealousy and spite.

 

This lesson is particularly valuable and timely with our yearning for the Bet HaMikdash which will only return with an abundance of Ahavat Chinam and Achdut!

 

May we merit to see the rebuilding of the bet Hamikdash be'karov.

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