Torah Thoughts on Parshas Yisro by Rabbi Binyamin Hutt
"לֹא תַחְמֹד בֵּית רֵעֶךָ לֹא תַחְמֹד אֵשֶׁת רֵעֶךָ וְעַבְדוֹ וַאֲמָתוֹ וְשׁוֹרוֹ וַחֲמֹרוֹ וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר לְרֵעֶךָ" שְׁמוֹת כ':י''ד
“You shall not covet your fellow’s house; you shall not covet your fellow’s wife, his manservant, his maidservant, his ox, his donkey, nor anything that belongs to your fellow.” Shemos 20:14
How does one become happy with his portion? In explaining the prohibition of לֹא תַחְמֹד, Ibn Ezra famously explains how every person has the capacity to control his thoughts and even emotions. Knowing that any possession in the world is literally inaccessible unless otherwise decreed so by the Master of the Universe, in essence sidesteps the ever-tempting feeling of jealousy. The awareness of the 'הַשְׁגָחַת ה is essential as to not transgress לֹא תַחְמֹד.
Yet in the continuation of his commentary, Ibn Ezra goes on to say how such a realization will blossom into a life of happiness – "עַל כֵּן יִשְׂמַח בְּחֶלְקוֹ". The absence of a particular asset or resource is not a mistake waiting to be corrected. It is the manifestation of Hashem’s precise and perfect decision of how to outfit every single being. It is a source of delight to know that your needs are lovingly provided by Hashem. But why stop there? If your life is an expression of 'רְצוֹן ה, isn’t your friend’s life equally governed by 'רְצוֹן ה?
Perhaps then, there is a deeper meaning of "אֵיזֶהוּ עָשִׁיר הַשָׂמֵַח בְּחֶלְקוֹ" – "Who is rich? One who is happy with his portion." Not only is his happiness drawn from his own portion – בְּחֵלֶק שֶׁל עֲצְמוֹ, but rather, his happiness also emanates from his friends’ portion – בְּחֵלֶק שֶׁל חֲבֵרוֹ. A person with this perspective has access to every single person’s “bank account” of happiness, becoming the wealthiest person in the world. You can share in your neighbor’s excitement upon making a wedding, be happy for your friend who gets a new car, and have a sense of joy when your co-worker receives a promotion. I’m happy with what Hashem gave me because it is exactly what I am meant to have, and I am happy that Hashem gave you exactly what you are meant to have in order to succeed.
The remarkable insight of Ibn Ezra not only explains how we can control our thoughts and avoid violating Hashem’s commandments, but also reveals a secret to a life bursting with abundant happiness.
Rabbi Binyamin Hutt graduated FYHS in 2003 and went on to learn in Yeshivat Sha’alvim. After completing a degree in management at Lander College, he and his wife, Dalya, made Aliyah to Eretz Yisrael. Rabbi Hutt is currently a rebbe at Yeshivat Sha’alvim and a teacher in Sha’alvim For Women. He and his family live on the campus of Yeshivat Sha’alvim.