“Do not covet the house of your neighbor. Do not covet the wife of your neighbor; his slave and maid servant, his ox, his donkey, and all that belongs to your neighbor.”
– Sh’mos 20:14
The Ibn Ezra explains that people are perplexed by this mitzvah. How is it possible not to desire that which I find beautiful? The Torah can forbid my actions or speech, because I can to control my behaviors. But desires dwell deep within a person. They are a function of the inner condition. I didn’t ask for them, but they are here. How can the Torah command me not to want?
The Ibn Ezra answers with a mashal. Imagine, he says, that a simple villager were to see a princess passing in a procession. He may find her very beautiful, but he would never fantasize about marrying her. She is so far removed from his social status that the idea of taking her as a wife is out of the realm of the possible. He wouldn’t even dream about it. If the idea would ever cross his mind, he would quickly rebuke himself, saying, “Am I insane? Do I dream about sprouting wings and flying?”
So, too, the Ibn Ezra explains, when a person understands that Hashem runs the world and sets forth the right woman for the right man, he will never desire that which isn’t his because he knows that it is impossible for him to have it. It is so impossible that it would be akin to a sane individual dreaming about growing wings and flying.
The Ibn Ezra is teaching us a fundamental concept in growth: that we can shape our very reality.