The New Hat I Bought for Passover
A few months ago I went to a series of class by Paamonim on healthy financial living at the community center.
We learned a lot of important things, but maybe the thing which has most changed the way I live (and spend money) was the suggestion that, before opening my wallet, I should ask myself whether this thing is something that I merely WANT or actually NEED.
So for the last few months, at the grocery store, I’ve been saving hundreds of shekels a month by not buying things which I realize I might WANT, but don’t really NEED. For example, those cool new pretzels shaped like hearts. 6-packs of chocolate bars for sweet-toothed teenagers. Igloo ices for little kids on hot days. Veggie shnitzels which are remarkably convenient as well as expensive.
Before Purim, also, I saved several hundred shekels by asking myself the same question. Did my baby need a new costume? No, he’d be perfectly fine wearing his older brother’s chick costume from a few years ago. Did Yaakov need a new costume? No, he’s thrilled with the tiger costume I found him for free at the neighborhood costume swap. What about Tsofia? No, we still have a beautiful wedding dress from last year, which a run through the washing machine and a sewing machine can make like new.
And now with Passover coming up, I’ve also been trying to figure out where I can save money. The boys’ three matching blue vests from last year are still in great condition. Both Yoel and Yaakov have a bunch of clean white shirts and holiday pants. Two of my girls took a sewing class last summer, so they are looking forward to making new dresses for themselves and their sisters with some really gorgeous fabric they bought.
And for me?
My Paamonim voice commanded me to look in my closet and see that I don’t NEED anything. I have plenty of nice skirts and blouses and hats.
But then I remembered the Shulchan Aruch’s command to feel joy on the holiday– our children do that with yummy foods, and we woman feel that extra joy through receiving a new outfit and jewelry.
So this morning, somewhat reluctantly, I headed downtown to buy myself a new skirt and a hat for seder night.
I found a fuchshia skirt which I really liked (and even better, it fit!), and headed towards the hat store.
I showed the saleswoman the skirt and told her I would wear it with a white shirt.
“Could you please help me find a white hat?” I asked.
If I have to spend all this money buying a new hat, I reasoned, at least it should be white, so I can wear it with all of my Shabbat outfits.
I tried on 3 white hats, and one of them I liked. But then the saleslady reached underneath a pile of hats and pulled out a lavender hat with iridescent flowers on the side.
No, I wasn’t going to buy this hat. It was completely impractical. It would only match this one new skirt. What a colossal waste of money.
So I tried it on, and I didn’t like it.
I LOVED it.
I looked at myself in the mirror, and held up the skirt to see how they would look together. And they were so pretty! And I felt that feeling of excitement mixed with joy which is simchat Yom Tov, the joy of the holiday.
And I felt the power of this mitzvah, transforming something I WANT into something I NEED as well.