As we approach the end of the laws concerning the commandment of ‘Do Not
Covet’ , it is instructive to summarize and clarify which forms of
‘coveting’ are forbidden and which are permitted.
We noted in the first part in the series that there is no prohibition to
merely want someone else’s item. Rather, the word, 'tachmod' implies
cajoling, pressuring, or embarrassing someone into selling him something
that the owner really did not want to sell.
However, it is also forbidden to think and scheme about how to pressure
one's fellow into selling him the item. Thus, even if one only plans how to
attain the item in such a fashion and never proceeds, he nonetheless
transgresses the Torah commandment of 'loh titaveh' which is stated in the
second version of the Ten Commandments.
It is also important to recognize that it is permissible to want the same
item as one’s friend, as long as it is not the specific item that his friend
owns. For example, Sarah likes Keren’s shoes, plans to buy similar shoes,
and does indeed buy such shoes.. This is totally permissible. If, however,
Sarah planned how to cajole Keren into selling her the shoes, the she would
transgress ‘loh titaveh’. And if she actually succeeded in acquiring the
shoes through these methods, then she transgresses ‘loh tachmod’.
In a similar vein, one may ask a Rabbi for a blessing to attain an item that
is similar to the one owned by his friend. If, for example, Jon wants a
house that is very similar to that of David, then he may ask a Rabbi for a
blessing to attain such a house.
Finally, it is allowed for one who anticipates receiving gifts on a certain
occasion to ask for specific gifts. It would only be forbidden if he
pressure someone into giving a specific item that he does not want to part with.
1.‘Loh tachmod’ n Hebrew.
2. Although it is certainly not an attitude that is in line with the Torah
outlook, as will be discussed in future articles.
3. Va'eschanan, 5:18.
4. It should be stressed that perhaps there are more important things that
one should ask for a blessing for -such as righteous children and health.
5. Such as a bride and groom, a boy approaching Bar Mitzvo or a girl
approaching Bat Mitzvo.