I, along with a number of contemporary rabbis (Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo and Rabbi David Bar-Hayim to name just a couple), have remarked and written extensively on the two modes of contemporary Jewish life, Diaspora/survival-oriented and Sovereign-in-Eretz-Yisrael/Redemption modes. The Babylonian Talmud, along with Rashi and other commentators, also make this distinction (Avoda Zara 22a and following, also many other places), as well as the distinction of when we are living in our land under either foreign domination (lo b’tokef) or Jewish/Torah-based sovereignty (b’tokef).
A basic assumption those of us who explore Torah make in viewing the world is that it is anything but a “zero-sum game”. Rather, it is, in fact, an infinitely-“positive-sum game”. M’lo Kol Ha’Aretz K’vodo, (He) fills the entire universe with His Presence (Isaiah 6:3), as well as M’chadesh b’tuvo b’kol yom tamid ma’ase bereishit (daily liturgy), “He renews, with His Goodness, every day, eternally, the acts of Creation”, are repeated twice daily in our prayers. We acknowledge and celebrate that God unceasingly pours His Infinite Light, infinite energy, into the universe. There is no limit to His Bounty and, therefore, to even suspect that what I have is at your expense or that what you have is at mine verges on atheism. There is and always will be plenty, and increasingly more, for each of us, if we only open our eyes to the non-superficial reality that monopolizes today’s dominant world views.
This radical realization, however, is of very little utility until it’s universally known and acknowledged. Until then, as long as even one person acts as if another’s wealth and other resources are entirely at his own expense, rather than trying to generate the bounty which is out there waiting just for him, he will try to take away from someone else. This mean-heartedness, what our rabbinic tradition calls Ayin Rah, an evil/defective/deceived eye (perception of reality) will continue to fuel war, hatred and crime until everyone finally awakens (Uri, uri, “Wake up, Wake up!”, as we recite in L’cha Dodi, entering into Shabbat where we, hopefully, awaken from the illusions of the weekdays) to the realization that rather than envying each other we should celebrate everyone’s success and see it as proof that our own is just around the corner.
The idea of the Tenth Commandment, V’Lo Tachmod and V’Lo Tit’aveh, specific injunctions of what not to envy, is really an affirmation of God’s ultimate power, to rain His Shefa, bounty, on all of us all the time. Eyn atar p’nui minay, there is absolutely no corner of existence where God and His Infinite Light are absent. It’s all there for us to make the connection through the keys given to us, Torah and Mitzvot.
Perhaps our mandate to become Ohr l’Goyim, the proverbial “Light to the Nations”, is to, through our assigned work of Torah and Mitzvot, bring illumination of the transcendent, ultimate reality of this unlimited bounty, to replace the horrid illusion that all wealth is at the expense of another.
No need to steal, no need to plunder, there is nothing to envy except, perhaps, open eyes, hearts and minds (our neshamot, souls, are already, by definition, open). Rather, let’s each of us go out and earn our own.