Re: Lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, pride of life

Carl W. Conrad (
Mon, 4 Nov 1996 08:51:22 -0600

At 10:06 AM -0600 11/4/96, Paul Zellmer wrote:
>Carl W. Conrad wrote:
>> I was very impressed by Martin Buber's comment on
>> the 10th commandment: he said it was the foundation for all the other
>> commandments regarding interpersonal relationships--that the others were
>> concrete prohibitions of particular acts but this one warned against the
>> very underlying attitude of envy of one's neighbor that makes it possible
>> for one to carry out those concrete acts.
>An interesting comment. I have not yet been exposed to a work that
>presented this summarization of the second part of the decalogue. Can
>you provide some further bibliographical info on Buber's comment?

Checking back over my shelves, I feared for a brief moment that this was
another of those books I had lent out to a student and never gotten back.
But here it is:

Martin Buber, _Moses, The Revelation and the Covenant_, Harper Torchbooks,
1958, p. 133: "There is one attitude, however, which destroys the inner
connection of the Community even when it does not transform itself into
actual action; and which indeed, precisely on account of its passive or
semi-passive persistence, may become a consuming disease of a special kind
in the body politic. This is the attitude of envy. The prohibition of
'covetousness,' no matter whether it was without any object in its original
form or read, 'do not covet the house--i.e., the content of the personal
life in general, household, property, and prestige--of your fellow-man,' is
to be understood as a prohibition of envy. The point here is not merely a
feeling of the heart but an attitude of one man to another which leads to a
decomposition of the very tissues of Society."

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR