Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

5 Tishrei 5760 - September 15, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
Preparing For The Future ; Maintaining a Dislike for "Bread of Shame"
by R' Zvi Zobin

Mrs. Alter was one of those old-timers they don't seem to make anymore. A proud lady who had been brought up in the East End of London in the hard times after the First World War, she was telling us how members of the local "Golden Age" organization called for her every Tuesday afternoon and took her by special car, as she was handicapped, to a nearby club. There, she spent a pleasant few hours of activities and after a nourishing supper, the same car drove her back home.

Of course, the service was free. The "Golden Age" organization was funded by the local authorities and basically run by volunteers. But this disturbed Mrs. Alter. "You know," she told us, "of course, when the car drops me off at my apartment, I slip a few shillings to the driver." She paused for a moment. "They give me so much; how can I not pay something. I don't want to be a chazir."

To these old timers, the word chazir represents the epitome of something which is totally disgusting. This revulsion for "something for nothing" is a trait which is built into every Jew.

The seforim explain that the basic reason why we are obligated to keep mitzvos and withstand the yetzer hora is so that we can earn our portion in the World to Come. If the portion would just be given to us as a free handout, we would not be able to enjoy it totally because it would bear the taint of "Bread of Shame" -- bread which we had not earned through our own effort.

So how do we deal with the avalanche of free gifts, vouchers, special offers, giveaways, freebies etc. which fall out of the morning cereal box, come into our letterbox and call to us from the ads?

Why buy something if you can get it free? Should I refuse the free gift bundled with the 4-pack? Should I ignore the Special Offer and purposely buy the regular item at the full price?

How can I protect my child from the desire for "something for nothing" which pervades our society? [Or even worse, the gambling instinct fostered by sending in wrappings in order to participate in a raffle drawing with a very minimal chance of winning anything?] If my child comes home with something and proudly announces, "I got it for nothing!", how should I react?

As adults, we can bear in mind the cynical phrase, "There is no such thing as a free lunch!" And in our social- welfare society, we have paid for many of the "free services" through taxation. But small children are too young to understand such sophisticated concepts.

Perhaps readers can send in their views of how to deal with this problem.

[R' Zobin's address is Panim Meirot 17. Your editor, S. Weinbach, lives at Panim Meirot 1. We both invite your comments and ideas.]


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