Jewish Journal


January 21, 2011

Kosher Sutra: You can’t always get what you want (Parshat Yitro)



Feet together. Inner thighs roll backwards. Tummy tucked in. Fold in your ribs. Open your upper chest. Look straight ahead of you. Be enlightened. Experience freedom. Simple, huh?

There seems to be a flaw in the human design. We all become jealous at some point or other. This is natural. We see that other people have things that look nice, and we want it. Maybe ‘it’ is their car, their income, their house, their holiday home, their wife, their boyfriend, their blinging jewellery. The thing standing between us and ultimate happiness seems simple – if could change the ‘their’ into ‘ours’, then all of our problems would be solved.

Or would they?

The Kosher Sutra takes us up Mount Sinai, to the last of the 10 commandments. “Do not covet”, sayeth the speaker. Do not be jealous of your neighbour’s house. Don’t be jealous of his wife, his male servant, his au pair, his ox, his donkey, don’t be jealous of anything that belongs to him (Exodus 19: 14). Compared to the more simple commandments – ‘Do not kill’, this seems to be overkill. The verb ‘covet’ – ‘Tachmod’ is mentioned three times, and there are seven categories of things that we shouldn’t be jealous of. Enough, already; we get the point.

Or do we?

Everyone has to say something about jealousy. The Yoga Sutras referred to the ‘klesha’ (affliction) of ‘raga’ (attachment), which is one of the Top Five Mental Disturbances Of All Time. Elsewhere it refers to the need for ‘aparigraha’, or non-coveting. On the yoga mat we practice not being jealous of someone else’s posture, or body, or yoga clothes, or anything that is theirs, and we focus on our own practice.

Why does the Kosher Sutra introduce seven categories of items for non-jealousy? Possibly because we are human beings, 7 is the mystical number that represents the human world, and we all have big ambitions. We all have desires, and it is through ambition that we create great things, but we can be far more successful when we recognise that there is enough sustenance on earth to fulfill everybody’s needs.

We do not need the income of our neighbour but can earn our own.
We do not need the house of our friend but can build our own.
We do not need the partner who has just rejected us but can go and find new love.

Be free, be free, be free. Tap into the abundance around you and use your desires to become great.

Shalom V’Ahava.


Marcus J Freed is the creator of Bibliyoga and yogi-in-residence for JConnectLA & Jewlicious Festivals. He’s also the President of the Jewish Yoga Network and Director of Yoga Mosaic USA. Next friday he’ll be teaching the Kosher Sutras in LIVE segments on Fox TV’s Good Morning Memphis. Tune in on Friday 28th January 2011

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