April 13, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
April 13, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Needing the New Luxury Good

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself knee deep in camp prep for my daughter. B”H, this is not her first year going to camp, so I have my system down to a science. My daughter’s camp started earlier than many others so I read the Glicks’ article after my daughter had left. I am blessed with a daughter who had me returning skirts and pulling items out of her duffel as she told me those were items she doesn’t need. The article really got me thinking about the idea of need vs. want and how that concept trickles down to our children.

I can’t even begin to count how many times I have used the word “need” when I really should have said “want.” It’s as if I’ve conditioned myself to assume that certain luxury items or experiences are necessities in my life. As someone who doesn’t drink coffee, I will never understand when a person says they can’t do anything before they’ve had coffee, yet many people in my life need coffee each and every morning. On the other hand, I have never met someone who told their screaming child in the morning that they just need a cup of coffee before they can go see what the child needs. So how do we differentiate? How do we prevent our children from thinking that luxuries are necessities? If parents condition their children to believe that they need a folding chair for camp and a canteen menu that rivals many restaurants, we are setting ourselves up for disaster. There have been so many times throughout various stages of my motherhood when I’ve realized that I literally created the difficult situation I was now dealing with. It was allowing my daughter to see me go crazy with tracking down a certain black skirt all the way to a store in Vancouver (true story), or rushing those last few minutes before Shabbos because I just needed to make one more batch of cookies (another true story).

There have been all sorts of materialistic things and experiences in my life that I truly thought I needed in order for me to have simchas hachaim. In more instances than not, Hashem had other plans and it turns out I didn’t actually need those items at all. Think about this—how many times have you heard someone describe a house as “needing a ton of work”? It’s as if it’s a given that when someone buys a house, construction will be done. It is truly amazing that we live in an era when families can actually afford to do this—and everyone should continue to be bentched. But what happens to the families that can’t? One person’s “need” is another person’s dream. And that’s not just for big-ticket items like extensions on houses, but it’s for even the small things—like drawers for sleepaway camp. Saying you need something is a luxury and implies that one has all the tools and resources to make that happen. Even more, you are forgetting that in fact you are not in control and everything you have has nothing to do with you and is all b’yad hashem.

Often, we get caught up in our own lives and we say things we don’t mean—not because we are not being sensitive and not because we don’t care. Each time we say we “need,” there could be someone else listening who also wants to “need” that same thing, whether it’s a bathroom renovation, a vacation or a baby. Then we have the people around us who feel comfortable enough to tell us what we need—a life-changing recipe or to see a doctor regarding a medical issue—all of a sudden everyone is an expert and feels free to tell you what you need even if you are at a simcha, on line at the grocery store or in a WhatsApp chat. We live in a world where as much as we know about other people’s lives, we literally have no idea what’s really going on, nor is it appropriate to make a determination as to what a person needs.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending the OU Women’s Initiative Leadership Conference. We had an amazing breakout session where in small groups we had to come up with the biggest challenges facing a specific age group and what would be the dream solutions. We live in scary world where there is no shortage of challenges Jews are facing no matter the age and stage. There are lots of things our community needs to improve the overall well-being of all community members. We have neighbors and friends who have basic needs not being met. Whether it’s financial needs or it’s much-needed support with raising children—these are actual needs that many times are not being met. In a few short weeks, the summer will be wrapping up and we will be stressing with elul and how we are approaching the new year. Here’s a thought: Instead of focusing on the next year, how could we focus on finishing up this year with a bang? Perhaps by being more sensitive to others with our language and making sure our friends and neighbors actually have their needs met—there is always much to be done. Reach out to someone you know and see how you can help. Believe it or not, you will get more out of the experience than you could have ever imagined. Wishing everyone an enjoyable and productive summer!

By Rachel Zamist


Rachel Zamist has lived in the Passaic community for the past 32 years and has watched it grow and transition. She is the beaming mother of Mimi, a student at Rachel’s own alma mater, YBH.

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles