web analytics
December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Consumerism And The Overspent Generation

The-Shmuz

“When Hashem… will broaden your boundary as He spoke to you, and you say, ‘I will eat meat,’ for you will have a desire to eat meat, to your heart’s entire desire you may eat meat.” – Devarim 12:20

For forty years in the midbar the Jewish people ate mon. Guided by Moshe Rabbeinu, engaged in constant Torah study with every physical need taken care of, Klal Yisrael lived on a lofty spiritual plane. Now that they were being ushered into a different era – entering Eretz Yisrael where they would begin living in a natural manner – they were given many directives to retain their status as an exalted nation.

One of the points that Moshe Rabbeinu made to the Klal Yisrael was that when they settled the land and followed the Torah, they would find success in their endeavors and Hashem would expand their borders. When this would occur, they would desire meat. And they would be allowed to eat it anywhere they wished.

Rashi is bothered by the relationship between the expanding of borders and the “desire to eat meat.” It almost implies that the expansion of borders brings on the desire. Rashi explains that the Torah is teaching us a principle in derech eretz. A person should only desire meat when he can afford it. When Hashem expands our borders and we enjoy financial success, then it is appropriate to desire meat – not before.

This Rashi seems difficult to understand. What is wrong with desiring meat? The Torah might tell me that if I can’t afford meat, I shouldn’t eat it. If it is beyond my means and purchasing it would create an undue expense, I shouldn’t buy any. But what is wrong with just desiring it?

Pleasures and Lusts

The answer to this can be best understood with a mashol. Imagine that you find yourself shipwrecked on a desert island. You haven’t eaten in three days, and you are driven by one burning desire – food. As you hobble along the island, you notice a brown paper bag under a palm tree. You open it up to find a dry peanut butter sandwich that has sat out in the sun for three months. You gulp down that sandwich with more gusto than anything you have ever eaten in your life.

Here is the question: How much pleasure did you derive from eating that sandwich? There is no question that you had a powerful urge, a very real desire, but how much enjoyment did you receive from that activity? The answer is not much. It certainly relieved your hunger, and in that sense brought a release from pain, but it would be hard to imagine that for the rest of your life you would be reminiscing back to the sensation of the bitter, spoiled peanut butter and dry, cracked bread as it scratched your throat when you swallowed it.

This is a good example of the distinction between pleasure and lust. You ate that sandwich with great desire – a lot of passion – but you didn’t derive much pleasure from that activity. Lust is the pull to engage in a given activity. Pleasure is the amount of enjoyment you receive from it. As unusual as it may sound, most people fail to make a distinction between pleasures and passions.

Hashem Wants Us To Be Happy

This seems to be the answer to the Rashi. While it is true that life is a battle, and exerting self-control is the primary vehicle of growth, Hashem created us to be happy. If you bring new desires into your world, desires you can’t possibly fulfill, you are destined to be miserable. You will be constantly wanting, constantly hungry. Your life will become the opposite of a pleasurable existence.

The Torah is teaching us that our desires are things we can and need to control. If you have the capacity to meet the desire to eat meat, there is nothing wrong with allowing those desires to surface. Hashem created many pleasures for man to enjoy, and you should use those pleasures to better serve Him. But if you don’t have the means to fulfill those hungers and you allow them to be present, then you will be living a very uncomfortable existence, constantly hungering for something that can’t be met.

When Hashem grants you abundance and you can afford luxuries, then you will desire meat – but not before. The Torah is educating us into a higher form of living. When you enjoy the pleasures and control your desires, you use this world for its intended purpose, thereby living b’shleimus – complete, not lacking.

This concept is very applicable as we expected to be above other nations. Unfortunately, that sense of living at a higher standard can become perverted into materialism, where the expectation is that for people like “us,” nothing less than the best will do. And so our weddings, our wardrobes, our homes, and our cars have to be the best. The way our children dress and the types of toys they expect are nothing short of top-notch. And we find ourselves with an ever-increasing cost of living. When barely surviving in our communities means we are expected to earn three to four times the national median household income, something is wrong with our lifestyle.

We live in times of mass prosperity where the average person is, by historical standards, rich, but to enjoy that great berachah we must maintain control. Everything in this world was created for man’s use – but it must be used properly, in balance, in the right time and in the right measure. When man does that, he enjoys his short stay on this planet and accomplishes his purpose in Creation.

About the Author: Rabbi Shafier is the founder of the Shmuz.com – The Shmuz is an engaging, motivating shiur that deals with real life issues. All of the Shmuzin are available free of charge at the www.theShmuz.com or on the Shmuz App for iphone or Android.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Consumerism And The Overspent Generation”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Haredi men cast their votes for the 19th Knesset in Bnei Brak, January 22 2013.
New Poll: Shows Netanyahu Will Lead Next Gov’t with Haredim
Latest Judaism Stories

What does the way we count the days of Chanukah come to teach us about living in the present?

Knesset and Menorah

Israel projects global material illumination not always the light of “morality” meant by the Navi

Parsha-Perspective-Logo-NEW

To many of our brethren Chanukah has lost its meaning.

Parsha-Perspective-Logo-NEW

This ability to remain calm under pressure and continue to see the situation clearly is a hallmark of Yehuda’s leadership.

It would have been understandable for these great warriors to become dispirited.

The travail of Yosef was undoubtedly the greatest trauma of Yaakov’s life, which certainly knew its share of hardships.

Yosef, in interpreting the first set of dreams, performed in a manner that was clearly miraculous to all.

Chazal teach us that we need to be “sur may’rah v’asei tov,”avoid bad and do good.

When we celebrate the completion of learning a section of Torah, we recite the Hadran.

Fetal Immersion?
‘The Fetus Is A Limb Of Its Mother’
(Yevamos 78a)

Yosef proves he is a true leader; He is continually and fully engaged in the task of running Egypt

When the inability cannot be clearly attributed to either spouse, the halacha is the subject of debate among the Rishonim.

Those who reject our beliefs know in their souls Jewish power stems from our faith and our prayers.

He stepped outside, and, to his dismay, the menorah was missing. It had been stolen.

Though we Jews have deep obligations to all people our obligation to our fellow Jew is unique.

In a way that decision was the first in a series of miracles with which Hashem blessed us.

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
The-Shmuz

Our right to exist and our form of self-government were decided by the ruling parties.

The-Shmuz

If Hashem is watching tzaddikim, why couldn’t He just save Yosef from all the suffering he was about to endure?

If a man owns a successful small business, he might do a million dollars a year in sales. But that is the gross revenue, not the amount he takes home.

It almost sounds as if Hashem is saying, “I have to keep Yaakov from getting too comfortable; otherwise he will forget Me. I can’t promise him sustenance because then he won’t need Me. He won’t write. He won’t call. He won’t love Me anymore.”

Why does Lavan’s speaking before his father show that he was wicked? Disrespectful, yes. Rude, certainly. But a rasha?

What happened was that Frank Jr. stopped being the little babe looking with love into his father’s eyes, and the relationship took on a very different nature.

Is it possible a man could be standing in a burning building, knowing this life is in danger, and be too lazy to move?

Avram’s father was not impressed with the cleverness of his son. In fact, he was so unimpressed that he took him to Nimrod the king, who pronounced him an enemy of the state and attempted to execute him.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/consumerism-and-the-overspent-generation/2013/08/01/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: