Get latest articles and videos with Jewish
inspiration and insights
Every Jew is irreplaceable.
How do we understand the deaths of Rabbi Akiva’s students?
Celebrating his bar mitzvah with his grandson, Harry Bibla attains the ultimate victory.
I took our Birthright group to Mt. Herzl, Israel’s national military cemetery. Little did we know what was awaiting us.
In this must-see video Shellie Grafstein tells the dramatic story of how her house went up in flames and all the miracles that saved their lives.
Britain's Government is proposing to change the way the BBC is run. It's about time.
I have a former best friend who’s now trying to take away my friends!
The student’s offensive remark was not only anti-Semitic, it violated the sanctity of all human beings.
Learning to live with less.
Mastering the art of receiving.
The power of listening, giving thanks and apologizing.
Prior to converting, I wanted to pick a Hebrew name that would reflect what I aspired to be.
4 keys to understanding the crisis facing singles and marriage today.
Because happy and healthy mothers make happy and healthy children.
What are we teaching our kids when parents are screaming and cursing during a soccer match?
My friend is stuck in an unhealthy relationship. Should I risk our friendship and say something?
How to use the challenges of being single to come closer to God.
And other clichés to avoid using with singles.
Appreciating the trailblazing scholarly work of Rabbi Yitzchak al-Fasi.
The significance, customs and mechanics of counting the Omer.
Unique in its universality, intensity, longevity and irrationality: What is the root of anti-Semitism?
Practical and relevant insights on the weekly parsha.
Advanced-level midrashic and Kabbalistic illuminations on the weekly parsha.
Lessons, stories and discussion questions for parents and kids.
Amazing discoveries that clearly show the Jewish connection to Jerusalem.
Must-see sites for every visitor.
This Rosh Hashanah, make the connection. A stirring video to share with friends.
UNESCO’s bizarre criticism is completely divorced from reality.
Telltale signs someone is a religious Jew.
May is a month for Mothers, so in their honor, let’s look at a few Jewish mothers who helped build America.
What is the message of this short film?
A rocking 6-string salute to Israel.
Why you should celebrate Israel Independence Day.
A moving tribute to fallen Israeli soldiers.
Abraham L. Seiman,
September 16, 2011 10:47 PM
We need a Part 2 - what are better ways to spend our good fortune.
We need a Part 2 - better ways to utilize our good fortune? Children, peer evaluation through comparison, sense of pride related to accomplishments as measured by life style. These are some stumbling blocks that need answers.
September 16, 2011 5:40 AM
hi mrs Lori. just wanted to thank you for your lessons. every once in a while i go on aish and watch you. i always feel i have more perspective after. i really take what you say to heart and try to apply it to myself. i think you are so special how u always working on trying to be the best person u can. a while ago i watched u speak about how much ppl complain (titled: "where's the salt?") since then, my younger sister and i help each other to watch out not to be negtive and complain. it makes living so much more peaceful, relaxing. (its comforting to see ppl like you who love life). may God keep shining his light through u into the world.
September 14, 2011 10:01 PM
should not be our main concern
Lori, I like listening to your shorts. They're to the point and give me a break at work. But I don't believe any of us, in kiruv or not, have the privilege of telling people how to spend their money. Most people that I know struggle with tuition and housing. And those who don't are supporting children learning in Yeshivos, many in Eretz Yisroel, and extending great hachnosas orchim and funding gemachs. I'm not sure what your friend in Florida will do when his kids marry and need to share bedrooms as couples when they come home for yom tov. Perhaps, he realizes he can just extend or rebuild. Or perhaps he built a guest house? How come you don't question why he needed to build a house to begin with. Everything in moderation but we are all individuals and frankly, I don't think siblings sharing rooms is a major concern in our current climate.
September 14, 2011 7:09 PM
very true what you coment in this part we should be more modest and human times are really difficult in all aspects and maybe we should look around and try to think what we can do change. thank you
September 14, 2011 3:45 AM
Living in Israel!!!
I grew up in a small duplex in America where I had to share a bedroom with my younger brother. I despised it even though there was not a gender problem. One of the main reasons I moved to Israel was due to the problem of sharing a room with my brother. After moving and marrying in Israel to an Israeli girl which was a mistake due to the fact that I am unhappily married because I rushed into marriage for the same reason I ran away to Israel, we moved to America for nine years. My parents' bought us a nice normal size private semi-detached house which was very nice but we moved back to Israel because my parents' were too over protective and controlled our lives which as long as they gave us money, my wife was very happy but hard for me to deal with. Living in Israel in a small apartment at the present time is extremely difficult. It is even smaller than the duplex I grew up in because at least the duplex had a basement which we do not have in Israel. There is no space for anything here in Israel and living in an apartment building as opposed to a private house is a disaster. There is absolutely no privacy whatsoever as well as no room in the apartment to do anything. The living room and three bedrooms are tiny. I exercise in the house and had to stop jump roping because my family complained that I was in their way. The small apartment adds to the friction between my wife and myself and causes a lot of friction between my children and myself. Now I see that even the duplex I grew up in was nicer than the apartment in Israel. At least we had a basement and lived in a duplex as opposed to a building with neighbors who knock on your door many times a day. Lori is right in the fact that a person does not need a mansion but at least a normal size private house like we lived in during those nine years before moving back to Israel.
September 15, 2011 3:14 AM
Stop and take a breath
Have you seen the "don't blame don't complain" clip? You might be a lot happier with life if you took a few minutes to appreciate all the good things that you mentioned. You have a roof over your head, you have a wife that has patience. You have children. You have parents that care about you and could afford to buy you a home. You don't mention anyone in your family being ill, Boruch Hashem. Do you realize how much better off you are than many? Start being thankful for what you have, or you may yet regret the loss, G-d forbid.
September 14, 2011 3:36 AM
I am surprised that as insightful a person as you, Lori (I hope you don't mind the familiarity!) has noticed the excesses of consumption only as compared to what Israelis have. It is my uncomfortable suspicion that those who transform their domiciles with the splendor appropriate for a Beis Hamikdosh l'havdil keep back the true Geulah from coming.
September 13, 2011 9:37 PM
I agree 100%. What is deemed "necessary" nowadays in terms of housing,etc. is so much more than what was thought of as necessary years ago. I really am against two children of the same sex having separate rooms. I just don't get that, especially when the age difference isn't large.
September 13, 2011 9:16 PM
I feel so uplifted to read the thoughts of other Jews who share my strongly held feelings on this topic. It is a topic that seems to get a lot of attention among secular and Christian groups but it rarely seems to be addressed in synagogues and other Jewish organizations. I for one would love to hear more on this topic. Great video Lori !!!
September 13, 2011 5:44 PM
There were many wise ideas in this...
I would also add that the same modesty should extend to weddings and bar mitzvahs etc. They certainly should be lovely affairs but not "over the top". I've been to a few of the "over the top" kind and I don't even have that much fun. They are just way too much. If people need to spend this kind of money, they should make a lovely, tasteful event but then give the extra money to a worthy cause in the name of the honorees.
Richard G Moss,
September 13, 2011 5:09 PM
use of resourses
I see the large homes, large cars etc yet hear how little money there is for Jewish education, there is definatly something wrong in the values system
September 13, 2011 4:57 PM
Have been trying to share this idea with my children and students for years. It is so heartwarming to see that others "get it" too! Thank you!!
September 13, 2011 4:12 PM
A too-big house
I remember watching a TV reality show (which I never did before or since) about families living on the (fake) US frontier. One had 2 teenage girls, and they had to live together in one room, plus a barn. IN the meantime, they were building a huge house for the 4 of them when they returned home. The girls at first hated their TV life, complained about the lack of privacy, etc. By the end, they were having fun. When they returned to "real life", they all looked at this enormous mansion they were to move into, and said, basically, "what do we need all this for?" They had learned to not only live together, but to like each other and their parents, living in one room.
September 13, 2011 3:37 PM
Materialism and consumerism have become rampant in the US - and in Israel, as well. This is unfortunate. The Sages of Pirkay Avos ("Ethics of the Fathers") teach us that (to paraphrase) more "stuff" equals more worry. And then there's the advice from Thoreau: "Simplify, simplify." We are defined by our actions, not by our possessions.
September 13, 2011 3:23 PM
Nothing wrong with living a bit below one's means
But there's also nothing wrong with enjoying what you've earned. There is, however, something wrong with making public pronouncements about how other people ought to spend the money they make and how much should be "enough" for someone else. It's just not your business, if you're not being asked to pay for it. People shouldn't be ostentatious-- either with their wealth or their piety.
September 13, 2011 3:03 PM
Apples & oranges?
yes i agree, simplicity is the key; otherwise how can one teach one's chidren the true joy of tzedekah? living below the radar means many more choices for your kids & family & gives a very different message to your community; no matter where you live, its so important to give back to your community in thoughtful needed ways; & to not hold anger & agressiion against your brother. Kids sharing rooms is great; but you may have one troubled child who needs his/her own space at different times, so be flexible!! Shalom!
September 13, 2011 3:02 PM
Thank you for saying it!
What a beautiful hashkafa. We could all take steps to integrate it...
September 13, 2011 2:56 PM
Less is More?
We downsized to a two-bdrm patio home some time ago. I've never been happier. You can't put a pricetag on freedom. Rooms where no one ever entered but me to clean them prevented a lot of living and joy. My most favored luxuries are the separate his/hers baths. I totally recommend it.
September 13, 2011 2:05 PM
Apples and Oranges
You can't compare North America and Israel. North America has a lot of land. I just visited my cousin in France. They don't have much land in France. He has a little house, small car. Gas is over double price in France than here in the U.S. I love Israel and France but I really feel blessed to live in the U.S.
September 13, 2011 1:25 PM
I liked that
not focusing so much on consumption which could lead to judgement, but the qualities of a person and how they choose to live life in humility, underneath the radar.
September 13, 2011 1:13 PM
We always need a reminder
It is very hard to resist social pressure or to succumb to advertising which creates needs like for blackberry,etc.
September 13, 2011 12:48 PM
So often, you give me a lightbulb moment. I shared a bedroom with my brother, which now would be unacceptable since we were different sexes. My brother has passed and I am so greatful that we had that unseparable connection!
September 13, 2011 12:31 PM
None of Your Concern
Comparing Israel to the United States when it comes to housing is bogus. First of all, according the to the CIA World Factbook ( population/land area), Israel has 10 times as many people per square kilometer as the United States. Naturally, therefore, land is at much more of a premium in Israel than it is in the United States. Secondly, it is not for anyone else to judge the size of another's home so long as it was purchased legally and built with wealth that was earned honestly. This smacks of envy, class warfare, and communism so far as I'm concerned. If you want to live piled up in a home when you have the option to do otherwise then by all means do so, but don't judge someone else who chooses not to if they have the means available to them.
September 13, 2011 11:12 AM
Grain of Salt
While the gist of what Lori says is correct and a valuable lesson her comments about the differences between Israeli and U.S. housing is not all that Black and White. There are many people in the U.S. that live in apartments --I dare say most --and whose children share rooms and there are many in Israel who have large homes. I feel that one does not have to skimp on purpose if one has more as long as the other needs are taken care of i.e. Hachnasat Orchim and Tzedaka
September 13, 2011 5:26 AM
What Lori says at the end is so true.
For some of us, we don't have the choice to over-consume, being of very modest means. Being surrounded by people spending thousands of dollars on new cars, renovations on already fine homes, or holiday wardrobes can be very hard on those of us who struggle to make ends meet. This summer, people talked about their flashy vacation in front of me and it was so painful (I have not taken an overnight vacation--excluding visiting relatives--in over a decade because I simply cannot afford to do so.) Other people suggest attending events that are costly--we can't join in because we can't foot the bll. Wouldn't the money be better spent on tzedakah? Can't people recognize that their consumption attracts negative attention and hurts people's feelings? If this blog persuades one person to "settle" for a modest used car instead of a Panamera, buy only one new suit or dress for Yom Tov, or live in a smaller, less perfectly decorated home, it'll help bring a shalom into the world.
September 13, 2011 2:19 AM
The other side
Surely many aish readers are aware of life on the other side of the tracks- even here in America, even in the midst of beautiful Jewish neighborhoods, even where there are no tracks.
My five (!) older children share a room, and they're trying to figure out how to fit the baby in as well. We also share one bathroom. And we know other families in similar situations. No, it's not ideal, and we are trying to find a way to move to something bigger. What amuses me, though, is that the kids don't want to move! We were careful not to be negative about the cramped conditions, and they want to live near their friends.
Not all Americanslive in luxury.
September 12, 2011 3:07 AM
Living in Israel
I lived in Jerusalem for two years and I loved it! I had so much less in material things, but so much less stress, believe it or not. No car, so no worries about taking care of a car, etc. I lived in an apartment with two other women, so I had to share. I agree totally with this article. It's not just the size of America. It's the attitude that we have to have it all. We need to get back to what is really important, and it's not things.
September 11, 2011 6:26 PM
We grew up kind of poor, my sister, brother and myself shared the same bedroom. We all turned out just fine,
September 11, 2011 2:38 PM
Just like many things, I think that moderation is the key.
September 11, 2011 2:22 PM
The gist of what is said here is fair and proper. Conspicous consumption and the wanton desire for material things is the basis for the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses" (or should I say the "Cohens?" -- only joking).
But, I do think proportionality and context is necessary to put things into perspective. Israel is a small country, size wize. Umm..."North America" is a bit bigger. I have a feeling that the size of the homes and the apartments in Israel might also have a little to do with the geographical constraints of the land. Car size is a factor of many things too. Overconsumption, crass materialism and the disregard for propriety are not unique to America.
September 11, 2011 6:23 PM
There is lots of conspicuous consumption in Israel
Have you been to Caesarea or Ramat Aviv? There is plenty of conspicuous consumption there and many Israelis in North America are living very well too. The restaurants in Israel are packed, the cars are much newer than they used to be etc.
Display my name?
Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.