As Purim approaches, thousands of Israeli children and families grapple with poverty
The impact of the country’s economic crisis is being felt far and wide, and most, if not all, of us are being forced to cut back on non-essential spending.
Being frum, however, is expensive. New clothes for Yom Tov; a lulav and esrog; fish, chicken, and meat every Shabbos; yeshiva tuition — the list goes on and on. What results is a never-ending series of expenses that seems overwhelming and inescapable.
Making a simcha — in particular, marrying off one’s child — is surely one of the heaviest of these financial burdens. Jewish weddings routinely include over 300 guests, more than five band members, and both a smorgasbord and a sit-down several-course dinner. Vorts have become mini-weddings, with a catered spread of cakes, pastries, and salads, a live musician, and a specially purchased outfit for the bride-to-be. That’s not to mention the protocol when it comes to the exchange of gifts at every stage of the process.
Of course, not everyone can afford to underwrite these kinds of affairs. And others, regardless of their wherewithal, eschew hyper-materialism as a matter of principle. So what we have in our community are basically four categories: the “haves” who spend big, the “haves” who keep it simple, the “have-nots” who spend big anyway, and the “have-nots” who keep it simple. Is there anything wrong with this system?
I don’t see a problem with people spending within their means, whether those be modest or abundant. What we should be concerned about is people spending outside their means in order to keep up with more well-to-do friends and neighbors.
Some segments of the Orthodox world see things differently, however. There is, they believe, a “crisis of spending.” In August, the leadership of the Skverer chassidic community in New Square, New York issued updated chasunah takanos (wedding rules) designed to lop thousands of dollars off the cost of marrying off a child. The rules are incredibly detailed and sweeping in scope. A few highlights:
▪ The vort should be held in the kallah’s home within three days of the l’chaim.
▪ The kallah’s friends should not be invited to the vort.
▪ No birthday gifts should be exchanged between the chasan and kallah.
▪ A cubic zirconium should substitute for a diamond engagement ring.
▪ Gifts for the kallah should include artificial flowers, a pearl necklace, earrings, and bracelet, machzorim and a siddur.
▪ Gifts for the chasan should include a gold-plated watch, set of Shas and various other seforim, menorah, Shabbos talis and talis bag, and kittel.
▪ A maximum of 120 guests may attend the wedding feast, which should feature only a one-man band.
▪ All but two of the sheva brachos must be held in a private home with only a minyan of men invited.
The Skverer edicts are the most comprehensive and restrictive to date. They build upon previous rules and were adopted after a survey of Skverer chassidim. The Satmar community has a similar set of rules, while the Ger chassidim in Israel have their own regulations. These rules are not merely suggestions — they are meant to be followed, and in a tightly run chassidic community, they will be.
In the Litvish world, on the other hand, there is no centralized rabbinic authority — no “chief rabbi,” at least in this country. Thus, attempts to issue simcha rules have never quite taken off. In 2001, Agudah introduced a list of takanos that, among other things, eliminated the vort and limited side dishes at the wedding to two, the guest list to 400, and the band to four pieces. Yet if you’ve attended your fair share of weddings in the past several years, you will have noticed that these guidelines are not being widely followed. That’s if people even know about them.
The solution is not issuing more rules and coming up with ways to publicize and enforce them. That approach misses the real problem. Making a fancy simcha is not, in and of itself, a sin. What’s wrong is 1) spending money you don’t have in order to keep up with perceived competition; and 2) on the other end of the spectrum, spending money you do have in an ostentatious manner meant to, as my mother puts it, “pop people’s eyes out.”
About the Author:
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
The University of Georgia Student Government Association called for more investment in Israel.
Without an alliance comparable to ISIS, Al Qaida & Iran, militant Islam will conquer the Middle East
Ultimately, Esther, Netanyahu, and we, the Jewish people, must and will rely on the true King, God, for our salvation from this genocidal threat.
Buried in the tax-returns of the JCF is millions of dollars funneled to NIF in the last few years.
Bibi’s speech to Congress will bring respect and honor to the Jewish Nation from the US & the world
Obama & Putin have handwriting/signature clues indicating differences between public & private life
It’s time for a new Jewish policy regarding Ramallah, NOT just because of the yarmulke incident
“GETT’s” being screened for Israeli Rabbinical Court judges at their annual convention.
If Jackson were alive he’d denounce Democratic party’s silence towards virulent anti-Semitism
Victim of Palestinian Arab terrorism, a victor in NY federal court, after years of being ignored by Justice Dept.
March 2013: Arabs hurled stones hitting the Biton’s car; Adele’s mother swerved the car-into a truck
I can tell you that Cablevision has been astonished at how high we rank.
Numbers permeate our culture,not advanced mathematics but snapshot stats that provoke snap judgments
Even a foxhole Yid has to admit that antisemitism is on the upswing.
Geller, a mother of five who made aliyah from Monsey last year, offers a glimpse – with lots of photos – into her busy family life.
If the eyes are the window to the soul, then children’s eyes are the window to the Almighty Himself.
It is ten o’clock in the morning. I am at a local park with my daughter. A number of children are climbing and sliding, imbibing the fresh air. In their orbit are a smaller number of women, some milling around on foot, others sitting on the benches conversing and minding strollers. Trailing my own child, I play a silent game: Who is a Mommy? Which, if any, of these women (who range from lovingly attentive to disturbingly disengaged) are the children’s mothers, and which are babysitters?
We asked several experienced mechanchim for their insights on how to shepherd children from their first “Modeh Ani” to the understanding that Hashem alone holds the key to every aspect of their existence. Here are the key principles they shared.
When the disproportion of terrorist acts committed by Muslims – and the resulting hordes cheering the carnage on the Arab street – lead clear-minded observers to conclude that jihadism is the dominant strain in the Islamic world, we are accused of painting with an unfairly broad brush, discounting the silent (and invisible) majority of Muslims who oppose violence and crave peace.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/teach-dont-ban/2008/10/29/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: