Monday, August 23, 2004

Shoftim: Sparing the fruit trees, and little else, part 2

The rabbis’ interpretation of the prohibition against destroying fruit trees us (Deuteronomy, chapter 20, verses 19-20) was to forbid wastefulness. In theory, this is a fine basis for the modern environmental movement. In practice, though, this prohibition is honored more in the breach than in the observance. Once upon a time, a Bar or Bat Mitzvah celebration was marked by the sponsorship of a kiddush for the congregation and, perhaps, a luncheon or dinner for the invited family and friends. How did we get from there to here? Now, there’s a buffet that’s more than sufficient for a meal, followed by the meal, followed by the sort of entertainment that used to be reserved for a wedding.

Simcha inflation” is a serious problem in current Jewish life, in all denominations. A small gathering of friends and family for a brit milah followed by bagels and cream cheese has been replaced by a catered meal. Wedding parties spend literally thousands for flowers alone.

Speaking of pursuing righteousness, I feel a lot more comfortable seeing celebrants spend more on tzedakah and less on a party. I’d like to encourage anyone celebrating a simcha to make a donation to Mazon, a Jewish Response to Hunger (, (National Office1990 S. Bundy Dr., Ste. 260, Los Angeles, CA 90025-5232, phone 310-442-0020, fax 310-442-0030,, or any other Jewish and/or secular charity of your choice.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wholeheartedly agree with you on the issue of simcha inflation. Many times what should be a simcha turns into unbearable burden for the families who can't keep up with the jones' but are forced to do so by the society we live in. Where is it all going to stop?

Tue Aug 31, 03:08:00 PM 2004  

Post a Comment

<< Home

<< List
Jewish Bloggers
Join >>