Jealousy, Covetousness, Nonstealing...

By any name, envy is wrong in world religions.


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In Jewish texts, envy is first mentioned in the Torah, with the 10th commandment: "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor's." Later Jewish writings expand on envy. The Proverbs state, "A tranquil heart is the life of the flesh; but envy is the rottenness of the bones." The 13th-century Torah scholar Nachmanides commented on Exodus 20:17 that "if man subdues his desire he will never harm his neighbor."

Jewish texts explain that envy is not just wanting what one doesn't have. It includes these qualities: longing for another's possessions, discontent with one's possessions because one prefers those of another, and the appropriation of the property of another. (See

. As Rabbi David Wolpe


, the Jewish High Holiday literature describes envy as "narrowness of vision," which includes being unable to recognize the success of others. Like the Jewish

concept of greed

, there are instances when envy can be good, as it can increase people's motivation to do better.

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