How does the quality of clothes which are produced in bulk,
compare to that of designer clothes which are sewn
exclusively for one or two customers? As a general rule,
quantity comes at the expense of quality, but is this true in
everyday life? Let the following examples speak for
If you should chance to visit Naomi, who got married about
two years ago to a young Kollel man, you would be puzzled by
the incongruity of the household furnishings. Most of the
furniture is cheap and secondhand. There is a table which has
seen better days, a purely functional bookshelf, and the
barest minimum of kitchen furniture. On the other hand, the
kitchen boasts a large, modern expensive fridge, which
somehow seems to be looking scornfully at its
There is a magnificent wardrobe in the bedroom, yet no
dressing table or chest of drawers. The very expensive spring
mattresses rest on secondhand beds. The baby's crib is of the
very best quality, but it is the only piece of furniture in
that room. The brand-new washing machine in the utility room,
is the best one on the market; and so on.
Naomi takes pains to explain the many discrepancies in the
house. She likes quality. When they invest in a piece of
furniture or equipment, it has to be of the best. Till they
have saved enough to buy the next item, she is prepared to
make do with anything which serves the purpose. Thus she is
using a single gas ring and a toaster oven until they get
their permanent stove. This will take some time, as their
income is low, but Naomi is willing to wait.
Tzivia is a veteran grandmother who refuses to buy cheap toys
which break almost as soon as the child looks at them.
Instead, when she comes to visit, she always brings some
cakes or sweets. Once a year she will buy the children an
expensive book or a pricey toy, which will last the family
for a long time.
"What, you only bought one sheitel before the wedding?
How could you?" "It was my own choice," answered the girl
calmly, "My mother told me that I could buy two cheaper ones
or one expensive one, and I chose the latter, of much better
A woman complained that her six-year-old-son was driving her
insane with his constant demands for attention. She had a few
hours respite while he was at school, but the minute he came
home, he started again. Her counselor advised her to give him
quality time for himself; where she would either sit and play
with him for quarter of an hour, or take him out for a while,
just the two of them. The astonished woman protested that
apparently she had not explained things properly. "I
understood you perfectly," answered the mentor, "but this is
attention you are offering of your own free will, without him
demanding it. You will see the difference."
There was a girl of eight who was forever demanding,
wheedling or begging for new clothes and toys. When she got
what she wanted, she was never satisfied, and insisted on
something else. Her mother was shopping one day, and saw a
little pencil holder which she thought would help the girl
improve her grip on the pencil. The child was overjoyed at
the unexpected present, and was effusive in her gratitude.
The mother could not understand how this small item brought
more joy and satisfaction than, for instance, the expensive
writing desk they had bought her. However, the daughter felt
that Mommy had been thinking of her as she went shopping and
she did not get it because she had 'extorted' it out of her.
It was a spontaneous present bought with love.
Many mothers will be surprised at the outcome of the
following experiment. When your child goes to bed at night,
try asking him if he remembers any particular thing you said
to him that day. He will rack his brains and possibly come up
with some small statement, although you have been speaking to
him from the moment he woke up in the morning. "Get up/ get
dressed / wash / brush your teeth / you'll be late / eat your
breakfast / have you done your homework?
Yet at the end of the day, he will remember none of this.
They are technical remarks, which leave no mark on the child,
and are forgotten as soon as they are heard. However, words
of explanation, encouragement and praise often leave
indelible impressions on the child, and are remembered years
later. In fact, many adults remember valuable lessons they
learned as children when a parent just said a short
Two shidduchim were suggested to a family and after
inquiries, the mother decided that both boys were equally
good. Her husband told her to make a written list of each
boy's good points. One list was quite a bit longer than the
other when he looked at them; nevertheless, he chose the boy
with the shorter list. "You see," he explained, "it's not
just a question of the amount of good points: this boy's few
points by far outweigh the ones of the other boy."
Sometimes when we are trying to get our priorities right, we
have to weigh the pros and cons of each fact before us. We
are admonished to be as careful of keeping a small
mitzvah as carefully as we keep a larger one, as we do
not know how much each is worth. When attempting to improve
our character, the yetzer hora tries to persuade us to
do it all in one go.
One at a time, is the way to go, quality, not quantity.
Concentrating on improving one particular character trait,
will have a far greater chance of success. One small gift at
the right time, as in our example, was worth more than all
the large expensive ones. In this case, it was the quality of
thought, and not the gift itself. Neither tangible nor
abstract things can be measured in value by the amount.