Sunday, November 2, 2008

Materialism and Spirituality

Wow- with the fact I was sick right before Shabbos- I had some time to catch up on my reading. YWN's Out of the Mailbox section and B4S's comment have generated a bunch of ideas/critiques about the society some Jews live in, and why a new line of materialism has been drawn.
After spending a Shabbos thinking about it, I realized that Israel might not be an exception.

I mean- a generation ago, a child might be teased if he didn't have patches on his pants.
Nowadays- a child might be teased if the pants didn't come from a brand-name company, or his glasses don't match the newest fad.

Where do we draw the line? How much is too materialistic, and how much is just how society functions nowadays? It's a funny concept.

I grew up out-of-town (for all those interested, that's outside NY and Lakewood, NJ) and so we didn't have this pressure to show up at school with $110 dollar Ugg boots, or shirts with a little horse on them.

But, in different areas, the social line of how much one should involve themselves in the latest trends may, and are different.

For example, in Israel- 'American' is better- no matter if it is or isn't. I can tell good quality clothes- and some Israeli brands carry just as good, if not better merchandise.

Teenage girls here shop at Zara's, because of the American style clothing and the reasonable prices when it goes on sale, and all of them order their shoes online from the US and send them with relatives.

Small boys must have the Saret (ribbon) around the edge of their kippa, with 6 sections and no button, if they want to get into Ponevezh Yeshiva. (No joke. If they wear anything else- it's considered bummy).

So are we to say to these children- don't focus on materialism, it doesn't really matter what kippa you wear, or what label your shirt says.....but it does, in a way. It will affect them- how others view them, how they see themselves- and only children with very strong self images and very supportive parents and friends will be able to survive the onslaught.

Should parents give in? Should they buy the designer handbags for their children, give them knockoffs, or have them earn it themselves? Or should they take a strong stand and say no- also a hard choice, as their children need to be very strong in order to withstand the teasing. (And don't say move out of Place X- because it exists everywhere- with different standards of course- as shown by my examples of Israel.)

It's not a simple answer or a simple question. One can have either one or the other- Olam HaZeh or Olam HaBaah- this world or the next. So how much is too much? How much is materialism, and how much is just existence in the world we live in?


Goldwasser Story said...

may we win this election

halfshared said...

It's this generation, not necessarily only where you live. I grew up in NY and I never felt pressured to have only brand name clothing or a Kipling briefcase. My friend that lives in Israel now told me she feels way less pressured about how she dresses in Israel and is dreading coming back to Lakewood cuz that's going to mean getting a whole new wardrobe.. and dealing with the pressure.

nmf #7 said...

halfshared: thanks for commenting!
As for your point- Israel is less pressured, without a doubt, but the line still exists. It's not like a free-for-all in which you could just dress however you want (especially in the more American neighborhoods), but it is much more chilled out than Flatbush or Lakewood.