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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Modest Aspirations

[I wrote a post about the events in Beit Hanun that is still setting off Zahava's 'uh-oh' meter... meaning I need to sit on it for a bit and allow reason to set in.  Stay tuned.  In the mean time here's something I've wanted to post for a bit]

A good friend and I were once sitting around over a bottle of wine when the topic of secret wishes came up.  I asked him to tell me what he wished for in life.  Without missing a beat he told me that he wished he were so rich that he could afford to make very low-key Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and Weddings for his kids.

This made absolutely no sense to me and I told him as much.

He went on to explain that if you are filthy rich and make a low-key affair, people quietly applaud your modesty and compliment your priorities behind your back.  If you  don't have money and make a modest affair out of necessity, your friends all understand... but in the back of their minds... and perhaps in their private conversations at home... they'll make note of what a shame it is that you couldn't afford to do more. 

The simple truth behind this sentiment became immediately clear to me and I have never been able to forget it.

Up until I heard my friend's explanation, my aspirations had always been a bit more modest (if I can use the word in a completely different context).  You see, I had always wanted to be so rich that I could buy a whole cheese pizza for myself and eat only the first two perfect bites of each slice without feeling the tiniest twinge of guilt.

I don't remember which one of my deepest desires I ended up telling my friend there over that bottle of wine when it came my turn to share... but I'm sure it wasn't the thing about the pizza.


Posted by David Bogner on November 9, 2006 | Permalink


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It's for the very reasons you are discussing that shuls have done away with extravagent kiddush giving on behalf of a balsimcha. The Agudah coming out with the 5 musician rule etc. I don't agree with all of it but I understand the point. I just wish people didn't feel the need to discuss other people's financial issues.

Posted by: Jewish Blogmeister | Nov 9, 2006 2:42:13 PM

Your friend has very simply and eloquently stated what I believe all people wish for in their hearts; the ability to use money as a tool, rather than seeking it as an idol. If only we could all just remember to seek Him first, G-d gives abundently to those that do. We're commanded to be unmindful of the trappings of others, but that's much easier to say than to do.

I've re-read my post a few times, and I'm still not quite sure what I'm trying to say, or if I've gotten some point across. I guess I just want to say that I think much the same as your friend, but that I know that G-d tells us not even to worry about that. We shouldn't covet what others have or concern ourselves with how much we take care of others, but that we do, and that we give the glory to Him that enables us to provide what we can.

That being said (well or not) I'm curious to hear your thoughts on Beit Hanun, but will patiently wait for Zahava's meter to quiet...


Posted by: Jethro | Nov 9, 2006 4:53:58 PM

No matter how rich I could get, 10% of whatever I eat will always automatically belong to my girl-friend. So my dream would be to eat - in her presence - 100% of a pizza (even a vegan one) - myself.

Posted by: Chris | Nov 9, 2006 5:00:00 PM

My youngest son delivers for Pizza Hut. He often brings home pizzas that (for a host of reasons) were undeliverable. So I regularly live out your fantasy of pitching a lightly used pizza.

My advice: aim higher.

Posted by: Bob | Nov 9, 2006 5:58:59 PM

when my oldest was very young he asked me what poor meant...i told him that poor meant a person had one lira to buy a loaf of bread...then he asked me what rich meant...and i told him rich meant a person who had one lira and ten grush...one lira to buy a loaf of bread and ten grush for a package of gum...i wish you more...great post...i'll remember it for a long time thanks

Posted by: marallyn | Nov 9, 2006 6:13:37 PM

Beautiful that he can put it into words and that it is the first thing that comes to mind. We should all aspire for such wisdom.

Posted by: Essie | Nov 9, 2006 11:01:03 PM

My father has always told me (although it sounds better in German):
Rich or poor, it's good to have money.
I prefer that to his:
Money can't buy you love, but it certainly can make the mattress softer.

Posted by: Jersey Boy | Nov 9, 2006 11:04:16 PM

Two Israelis checking their monthly balances at the ATM machine.

Israeli 1: I didn't have such a good month.
Israeli 2: I did well this month - I almost got back up to zero!

Posted by: Ben-David | Nov 10, 2006 1:05:48 AM

FOr some reason, Tevye's song from "The Fiddler on the Roof" comes to mind...

Posted by: Irina | Nov 10, 2006 2:30:42 AM

As we say in Argentina: "Es mejor ser rico y sano que pobre y enfermo" (it's better to be rich and healthy than poor and sick)


Posted by: Sandra (AR) | Nov 10, 2006 3:33:20 PM

My husband's and my celebrations consisted of chanting the haftarah (the Punster also led Musaf), followed by a kiddush in the synagogue and a family celebration in a relative's home. We tried to do much the same for our son, and he still hasn't forgiven us for it. He was among the few celebrants he knew who didn't have a huge catered affair in a restaurant or hotel. In our day, one would have spent that kind of money for a wedding. I'm afraid even to think about how much money we're going to be expected to chip in should our son choose to, and be fortunate enough to, get married.

Posted by: Shira Salamone | Nov 13, 2006 12:26:32 AM

I worry about this without even being married or having kids yet. Having followed my passions into the more artistic fields, there is no way I will be able to keep up with the doctor, lawyer and accountant bar mitzvah makers of the world. The pizza thing - I could probably do!

Posted by: mcaryeh | Nov 28, 2006 3:59:24 AM

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