Apr 26, 2012

Raw Materials

As I observed long ago, those who count their pennies and seek to live materially simple lives may be just as immersed in gashmius as those who are well off financially.  Why? Because it takes a lot of attention to gashmius to seek bargains and to see where one can cut expenses.

I was reminded of this when I read a letter to a magazine in which the writer extolled an article which was an interview with a woman who makes everything herself for Pesach and is severely limited in what items she will use (no oil, for example).  The letter-writer said she found it refreshing and meaningful - "It was a glimpse into what Pesach is genuinely supposed to be: a time to free ourselves from the shackles of materialism."

Is she for real?! How long does it take to buy bottles of oil versus how long does it take to make schmaltz? How long does it take to buy containers of juice versus how long does it take to squeeze your own juice?

Those who make everything themselves are just as much or more involved in materialism than those who use purchased products! I agree with the letter-writer that we need not be slaves to gourmet cuisine but she is mistakenly associating simple foods with freedom from materialism. 


  1. I thought that the reason that some people made their own juice and rendered shmaltz was that they were not going to rely on a factory to make sure that their foods were chometz-free. While bottled oil and bottled juice are not necessarily materialistic items, living without them for a week while working harder can be part of the avodah of making a more mehudar Pesach.
    To me, materialism when luxuries become necessities. Clothing goes out of style every season and that is materialism. Keeping up with the neighbors in terms of home remodeling, new cars, vacations and over-the-top simchas are materialism. Economizing is something that people may do out of necessity. Not everyone can afford to buy at full price. Then there are those who bargain hunt for things that they don't really need, because they like to find bargains.

  2. Yes, it's about hidur mitzva or being machmir. Chometz is said to symbolize the Yetzer Hara and ego, and Pesach is Zman Cheruseinu. Pesach is a time to free ourselves of that which hinders our avodas Hashem. Pesach is not about "back to nature" and a "Walden Pond" philosophy.