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Nisan 17

Do not covet your neighbor's house ... your neighbor's wife ... and anything that belongs to your neighbor (Exodus 20:14).

Some ask: How can a person be commanded to not desire something? Is not wanting something a spontaneous feeling and therefore not subject to rational control?

A noted psychologist says: "In order to feel love for some object, be it a human being, pet, or a new home, a man must see some possibility of an action he can take in regard to it, otherwise his appraisal of `good' is merely an abstract judgment without personal significance" (Branden, N., The Psychology of Self Esteem, Bantam Books [New York, 1973] p. 77).

This important psychological insight tells us that something which is completely beyond attainability cannot become an object of desire. Hence, if we desire something belonging to our neighbor, it is because somehow, however remote, we think we might get it.

When we become aware of a desire for something belonging to someone else, it is time to take steps to avoid any improper behavior. Sincere commitment to avoid improper behavior can help eliminate improper desires.

Today I shall...

make my commitments to respect another person's possessions so absolute that a desire for them should never occur.

With stories and insights, Rabbi Twerski's new book Twerski on Machzor makes Rosh Hashanah prayers more meaningful. Click here to order...

Published: May 21, 2009

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