Sunday, January 23, 2005

Where Are You Going for Pesach?

A great man once said, "What one does not understand, one does not possess." You all probably heard that one a milliomn times, but somehow it got past me until last week. That got me thinking. I cannot, no matter how hard I try, understand materialism. So, yay! According to this guy, I don't possess it. (To a great extreme anyway.)

I recently came across numeous ads for hotels for Pesach. (Came across= was completely unable to avoid.) I was overwhelmed by what these establishments boasted. Needless to say, not in a good way.

Marble floors...jacuzzi...state of the art everything...blah, blah, blah.

Once in a while, some of them remembered this is a Jewish holiday, not just some vacation days where people inexplicably eat matza. Those few ads mentioned a fully stocked Bais Medrash, and Daf Yomi, and all that. That's a small step up, I guess.

We received a flier in the mail with the prices for a few hotels. The cheapest one I saw was $1,995 per person, for 10 days. But those were in New York. The next one was about $2,600 per person. Don't forget, they charge 25% for tax and tip at the hotel. Plus airfare, because , helloo- stay in New York? What will I tell my friends???

Also, if you want to go to a hotel for a holiday, why choose Pesach? That is the holiday where every little detail makes the world of the difference in terms of the food and how things are prepared in the kitchen. How could people trust huge establishments, especially ones that are not usually Kosher the other 355 days of the year, with something that challenges even the frum people in their own kitchens? It's frightening how many mistakes are made simply on Shabbos during the year, but combine that with Shabbos, Yom Tov, and Pesach...despite the fact that there is a Rav there, something screwy is bound to go on.

Also, spending that astrinomical amount of money on something so self-serving is beyond me. Give it to your local Kollel family. (I know that many people don't like to give to kollels, because you end up paying some lazy yokel to sit outside and smoke, while soaking up the money intended for the sincere guys "shtaiging away.") Your local kollel guy needs it more than Paris Hilton does. He needs to feed his children. He needs to clothe them. His hardworking wife deserves a break. Maybe she can use that money for some help around the house, or the pair of shoes she hasn't replaced in 3 years.

What about the poor families in Israel that scrape together every small bit of food they can get just not to die of hunger? They serve yogurt on Shabbos because that is simply what they can afford. How can people spend so much money on marble floors and jacuzzis when people can't serve their families chicken for Shabbos?

It also makes me crazy is that it has become a norm. People do it every year, and assume everyone else does, too. Not like it's a treat, or something that's special. It's like, "Where are you going for Pesach?" When you tell them you're staying home, it's like, "Oh, you, and the trees. Great. See ya!" and then they turn around and say, "OMG, can't talk to HER anymore..." They simply don't appreciate the luxury of spending some people's annual income on 10 days.

I am fair, though. I think that if people match the cost of the hotel and airfare for pesach, and give that to tzedaka, Bon Voyage. Let the kitchen issues be on YOUR conscience.


At 1/24/2005 9:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"poor families in Israel" - I guess you are refering to Israeli chareidim. You should know that 70% of working age chareidi men in Israel don't work. That's why they are poor, and it's THEIR fault, nobody else's. Most of those men are like the local Kollel guy that you describe - they don't learn much.

At 1/27/2005 8:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your whole argument makes no sense. You're saying that because some woman can afford shoes only once every three years, it's wrong to go away for Pesach. So where do you draw the line? It's wrong to buy a new pair of shoes once a year because someone else can buy shoes only once every three years. You can't drive a 2000 Toyota because some guy drives a 1974 Ford Pinto, so how dare you outdo him? Any time you spend money, you're outspending someone else. If you buy chicken for supper, some guy out there can afford only a falafel, that's not fair, either. I say, spend your money how you want, and if the other guy can't afford it, that's his problem, not yours. Otherwise, you can never spend above your basic needs without this guilty feeling.

At 1/31/2005 12:07 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Alright . My arguments were extreme, but only to make a point which I dance around in all my posts: Materialism is so way out of hand, that it has consumed Jews to a point where it has become a vicious monster too big and strong for anyone to fight.

I know everyone hates the argument, "Eat your peas,there are kids starving in China." Obviously, if you only serve the bare minimum, the poor people are not being helped. What I am saying is that if people are so ready to overspend for their personal pleasure, they should be willing to spend that much, or even half on Tzedaka to allow poor Jews to have Matza for Pesach or something.

What I have come to find is that some rich people are like teachers. They think, "hey, I'll never be a student again, so let me make these people suffer as much as I can..." They think, "I'll never be poor, so what do I care about those people?"

As with everything, there has to be a happy medium. Enough money and pleasure for the rich person, (after all, he did earn it--- whether he was honest or not is a different discussion)and enough consideration on his part to give to the poor. I'm not a communist, I just think that rich people should help out the legitimately poor people. Not your average druggie on the street, but your local REAL, ehrliche, sincere kollel man. Because deep down we all know that it's the Torah learning that keeps this world going round, not the Caddys.

At 2/01/2005 5:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again, though, the problem is where to draw the line. Many of these rich people give a ton of tzedaka, and what they spend to go away for Pesach is but a small fraction of their wealth. So you're saying that if a guy gives $100,000 to tzedaka a year but goes away for Pesach, he ought to stay home and give away $150,000. Again, you run into the problem that no matter how much he gives, there will still be struggling kollel families, so where do you draw the line?

And suggesting that the kashrus at these establishments is questionable is impugning (to steal a term from Condi Rice) these mashgichim. These rabbis take their jobs very seriously, and as long as everything is kosher lepesach, the stuff won't turn to chametz. Maybe gebrox, but not chometz. Let's give them a little more credit.

So I agree with you that these people shouldn't think they're superior, but if they give their fair share (10% according to halacha), let them enjoy their hotels.

At 2/03/2005 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm always amazed at how one person can be so nit-picky and choose one SIDE POINT about Kollel families and go on to rant about it. Why can't Anonymous number one cut out on the bitterness from his tone of voice. Why be so cynical? Be happy that some people out there are able to cut back on all of life's gashmius pleasures and force himself to suffer in that way so that he could dedicate his life to learning Torah.

At 3/30/2005 6:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just booked a room for one night of Pesach (Shabbos, 7th day) in Tel Aviv. I spent 1250 shekels, which is over $200 for one room, including breakfast, for me and my husband.


Because my aunt and uncle, and cousins who live in New York and I almost never see, booked a hotel for all of Pesach. Yes, my cousins are "going away" for Pesach. But really, they're coming home.

Why do other people do it? Well, you can sell your chametz and have less cleaning to do, so in families where both parents work hard and have no spare time (sometimes, unfortunately, not even for their children or each other) it gives them the "luxury" of that time.

On Pesach we're supposed to be like kings and free men. Kings can go away without feeling guilty. So can free men.

It is not my responsibility to support a kollel family. It is my responsibility to give ma'aser, and to take trumos and ma'asros from my fruits and vegetables. It is also not a kollel family's "right" to be supported by others. But maybe I'm just selfish.

(So you know, this one night is over one sixth of my husband's and my combined salaries for the entire month. This is a real treat for us. Don't bash what you obviously cannot yet understand and appreciate.)

At 12/14/2005 10:04 AM, Anonymous Chani said...

What I can't stand about the whole hotel thing is not the money involved, but the whole principle of the thing. It's 1 thing is someone's not feeling well, or for whatever other reason, can't make Pesach on their own at home. But for everyone else, what's your excuse? And why would you want to go to a hotel for Pesach anyway? Eat together with a million other noisy families(no singing, girls), eating hotel food(I don't care what you tell me, homemade food that you made is way better than any hotel's food)... Most of these people would have their cleaning ladies/maids do all the cleaning anyway(another thing I can't understand-how you can give this mitzvah to your spanish cleaning lady & trust her to do a good job-nothing against Spanish people, but they cannot possibly chap how much everything needs to be cleaned & checked) I just don't understand it!


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