The Bible Says What? The Ten Commandments misses out the most important one!

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

The Bible Says What? The Ten Commandments misses out the most important one!

 Rabbi Yuval Keren looks at a controversial passage of Jewish texts and looks at a progressive response

The Ten Commandments are regarded as the pillars of Jewish – and indeed human – faith and conduct. Yet if we examine them one by one, we will find none of them easy or straightforward.

‘Do not have other gods before Me’ seems to be broken daily when some of us worship pop idols or make routine offerings to the god of Mammon (money and material wealth). So many of us casually take God’s name in vain (OMG) and, no matter how hard we try, we all fail at honouring our parents.

Yet in my eyes the most challenging of all is the last on the list: Do not covet your neighbour’s house, your neighbour’s wife, servants, animals, and all that is your neighbour’s. (Exodus 20:17)

It is challenging because it involves thought rather than action – and it is impossible to stop this thought. Also, why does it begin with details and conclude with “and all that is your neighbour’s”?

Perhaps when we look at someone else, we tend to judge them by one or two characters we feel we lack in ourselves. This might be their house, their status, sports car, good looks, age, health or their greener grass. Jealousy is then easy to settle and the feeling we would have loved to be in their shoes. 

If we examine the person as a whole, we will find that no other person’s world is perfect. One successful way of applying the commandment ‘do not covet’ is to look at others as if they were not different from us, with all our flaws and faults.

This is the essence of the most important of all commandments and the one missing from the grand list of 10, but ever present in all ethical rules: ‘Love your fellow as yourself’ (Leviticus 19:18).

Rabbi Yuval Keren serves Southgate Progressive Synagogue

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: