Nov 25, 2012

Ripple Effects

We want to do something to help Eretz Yisrael.  We can daven and say Tehillim and that helps.  Some write checks.  Some feel they want to do more, they want to do something tangible that demonstrates, to themselves, that they care about what is going on in Eretz Yisrael. 

Last week, while the rockets and bombs were still flying, someone said that she was not going clothing shopping.  While otherwise, she would stop in to certain stores and see if they had gotten in anything of interest, now she was avoiding that.  Why? As an act of sensitivity; shopping isn't appropriate while our fellow Jews are diving for cover, getting hurt, and having their homes smashed.

I understand the sentiment, however ... What about the store owner? What if avoiding unessential clothing shopping, in deference to our brethren, became a widespread phenomenon? Should store owners not make sales because of our sensitivities? Surely, there are other ways to share in others' pain that do not affect people's parnassa. Then again, maybe avoiding unessential clothing shopping is a good thing and something to promote, regardless as to whether there is a war going on (or people are homeless due to Sandy).

A similar question can be asked about wedding takanos.  Wedding takanos minimize wedding expenses.  When wedding expenses are minimized, they also minimize the earnings of those who provide those items.  If the takana is no diamond ring, just a zirconium, that minimizes the earnings of diamond dealers.  If one-man-bands replace multiple musicians, that minimizes the earnings of other musicians and bands.  If silk flowers are rented from a gemach, it minimizes the earnings of those who sell fresh flowers.  If l'chaim/vorts are made at home, halls are not being rented.

Does the parnassa of those providing these services need to be considered when cutting expenses? Apparently not, since leaders of various groups have established takanos.  And when considering parnassa, I can consider my own bank account and choose to minimize expenses without putting someone else's parnassa before my own.  However, not shopping because of a sensitivity to those suffering in Eretz Yisrael doesn't seem quite the same thing, because it's not about my parnassa versus anyone else's; it's about wanting to do something that reminds me that Jews are suffering.  That can be done in ways that don't affect anyone else.

Nevertheless, I admire the sentiment and the follow-through.  Somebody cared enough to do something.

1 comment:

  1. I would suppose that if the purchases are unnecessary or are being bought from non-Jewish stores, there is no problem with avoiding the purchase. When people are in aveilus, they are prohibited from making joyous purchases and Jewish store owners who sell clothing often close for the 9 days. Halacha dictates observance of a period of sefira during which barbers and musicians can't make a living as well as during the 3 weeks. Years ago, when my husband worked night shifts, I used to purchase his supper at a kosher deli that sold strudel. He loved the strudel but eventually he had to stop eating it and lose weight. The store owners were angry and felt that if he wanted to lose weight, let him cut out something else; not the food that they sold! His diet and their parnassah were at odds.