“Nice boots,” my friend Rachel said one day, as we walked home from Hebrew day school.
“I got them from one of my aunts, I’m her favorite!” I said.
“So let me know when you are ready to give them away.” Rachel said, as she gave me a wink. The next week as we walked home from school Rachel said, “I love Esti’s new knapsack — it’s paisley with a green trim. And by the way, I love that bracelet of yours. When you’re sick of wearing it, you know my address.”
“What?” I stopped short. “I don’t understand you.”
“I’m just saying that if you ever feel like giving away that bracelet.” Rachel’s voice trailed off.
“I’ll think about it.” I turned and walked into my house. Why did I have to listen to Rachel talk about everyone else’s belongings that she was trying to get?
“Love that new purse of yours,” Rachel commented just last month. And wasn’t it Rachel who recently admired my new bicycle — “I love used bikes,” she said, the day we needed to get something from my garage.
I was quiet at dinner, and my mother asked me what was wrong. I told her about Rachel and how uncomfortable she made me feel, always asking about my belongings and trying to find a way for me to give them to her.
“I bet Rachel isn’t aware that what she’s doing is against the Torah.” Mom put her arm on my shoulder.
“The Torah doesn’t want us to desire what belongs to someone else,” she continued. “The Torah tells us that when we see something that belongs to someone else and we want that for ourselves, it’s called taaveh, or desire.” Mom pointed to the line in the book. “Then, if the person tries to acquire that object by joking, hints, pressure, etc., that’s even worse.”
I looked up at my mother. “What do you mean?”
“That’s called coveting or attempting to get someone else’s belongings.” That’s breaking the Jewish law.
“It’s really that serious?” I stood up and took a deep breath.
“Yes,” Mom said. “Tell Rachel tomorrow that it’s fine to admire nice objects, but it’s another thing to desire them and to make plans to get them.”
The next day on our walk, I stopped short when Rachel began to talk about my new jacket.
“It’s one thing for us to admire these things, but it’s completely against the Torah to desire them.” I smiled and then went on to explain. Rachel listened. “I never knew that, and besides, I was just joking,” she said. “Let’s run home.”
I don’t know how Rachel felt about our conversation, but one good thing is that she never hinted again that she wanted what belonged to me.