When Channy met her friend Dassy, she told her excitedly
about her marvelous holiday. The hotel room had the most
wonderful view: the bathing facilities, both in the pool and
in the sea had been terriffic. There had been family programs
and special programs for the children. They had come back
invigorated and refreshed.
Dassy listened patiently and then rather shamefacedly told
Channy how they couldn't afford to go on a vacation, yet the
children needed a change, so in the end they'd decide to
exchange apartments. This meant that she had to leave her own
place spick and span. The organization and packing had left
her worn out before they'd even started out on this trip,
which was to become a busman's holiday for her.
Dassy did not know that Channy also felt a twinge of envy,
when she met her cousin Dina, who had been abroad and stayed
in a five-star hotel. Channy's vacation paled into
insignificance when she heard about the cable cars and the
breathtaking views and novel experiences. Channy now felt
that she had wasted all that money on a second-rate
Miri noticed Ruchama's beautiful new necklace right away.
"What a gorgeous necklace!" she exclaimed. "It's new, isn't
it? When did you buy it?"
"Actually, it is not all that new, I have had it for quite a
few months. My husband bought if for me after I had the baby;
he always gives me something special when we have a new
baby." They went their separate ways and something bothered
Miri. She had never felt she needed any gift other than the
precious one of a new baby, but maybe her husband should,
nevertheless, have thought of it himself and bought her
something after each birth, as other people seemed to do.
Leah found a full-time job and was grateful for the regular
income. Unfortunately, she was oblivious to the feelings of
her friends who were also desperately looking for work.
Whether it was in the park or in the shops, she bragged about
the exclusive outfits she had bought for herself and the
children. She announced to all and sundry that life was so
difficult while they had a new kitchen installed with state-
of-the-art built-in cookers and electrical appliances.
Zehava, one of the women in the park, drank in every word.
She had been telling herself for years that parnossah
depends on Hashem and had been proud of the fact that her
husband was learning full-time in spite of the shortage of
money. Leah's joy in her new-found wealth, destroyed all the
contentment which Zehava had acquired so painstakingly.
People are prepared to spend thousands of dollars on lavish
weddings and barmitzvas in order to keep up with all the
other sumptuous affairs which are celebrated so frequently in
our affluent society. They will spend exorbitant amounts of
money on clothes which they will hardly wear. These clothes
are not suitable for an ordinary affair, and for their next
son's bar Mitzva they will have to have a new outfit, of
course. All this, for an event which will be over in a few
hours, and which will hardly be remembered for its
extravagance. Surely they could put this money to better use?
To be fair, there are many well-to-do people who do make
simple weddings, as a matter of principle.
The fifteenth of Av used to exemplify true simchah. At
that time there was absolutely no difference between the
Haves and the Have Nots. Each girl joined the celebrations in
a borrowed white dress so as not to embarrass other girls
whose clothes might not be quite so fancy. Thus there was no
one-upmanship and no competition. The poor girls felt rich on
this great happy day, because they were wearing nice dresses,
the same as everyone else, and the rich girls felt poor
because they were wearing a borrowed dress instead of their
own exclusive one. (This is one of the advantages of a school
uniform. There are no rich and poor; everybody is alike.)
Unity and uniformity can be a wonderful thing, which the
following examples will illustrate. There are gemachs
in most major Jewish communities, which rally round after a
woman has given birth. Some will send a 'bounty pack',
consisting of a new garment and some basic essentials to the
new mother, regardless of whether she needs it or not. The
ones who do not need it, can always hand it back
However, even well-to-do people need the help of a
gemach at some time or other. For instance, if their
usual baby sitter has let them down and the children need
taking out in the afternoon.
Some post-birth organizations offer a choice of services
after childbirth. Either financial help, or some cooked meals
sent in for all the family, or baby sitting for the older
children or even volunteers who will look after the new baby
for a few hours at a time so that Mother can get some much
needed sleep. Everyone can choose which service they require
and nobody feels like a nebbech.
Some wonderful people knew that one of their group needed an
expensive operation. They collected the required sum among
themselves and handed it to the local chessed
organization so as not to embarrass the recipient. He
wondered why they sent him such a large unsolicited sum of
money, and then reasoned that this was a service extended to
anyone facing serious surgery.
Any chessed organization which is not means-tested, is
a true kindness. Selling items at cost price to all
Kallas whether they can afford retail prices or not,
makes those who really need it feel good. They do not feel
the poor relations.
Those who have been blessed in so many different ways, know
that they have to thank the One who bestows all goodness. We
have to thank Him daily, repeatedly. However, we do not have
to tell all those around us of our good fortune. We may
awaken the spark of jealousy, which lies dormant in most