The New Hat I Bought for Passover

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.

Related posts:

The Sore Thumb
Mexican Latkes by Sina Mizrachi
The Days are Long, the Years are Short (2-Minute Tissue-Alert Video)

18 comments

  1. This was beautiful:..it somehow made me want to cry! What a beautiful thought.

  2. So amazing! It’s a constant struggle between the Ruchinias and Gashmius. And how can we use all factors in our Avodat H’Shem. Thank you for this beutiful, inspiring example.

  3. thanks for this reminder about how to elevate the physical and use this world for it’s higher purpose – yishar koach!

  4. So beautiful!

  5. i love this story. did you also get a white one to match everything else?

  6. I loved this post! I too often settle for the ‘do I need it’ for myself, and don’t buy anything. My children, now older, encourage me to get something special for myself just because. And if I don’t, they’ll buy me something!

    The principle of ‘want’ vs. ‘need’ was how we taught our kids to approach all the things they wanted as they were growing up. B”H blessed with a large family, especially with teenage girls, it is a real question how many pairs of Shabbos shoes they ‘need.’ Our guiding principle was that we would pay for the one basic pair (in addition to sneakers, sandals, etc, etc), but if they wanted that extra pair for just that outfit, they would pay for it themselves out of their babysitting money. Or other odd jobs they worked in the neighborhood. It’s amazing how the ‘need’ switches to a lower level when it comes from their own money. And how they learn to shop the sales, and wait for the item to be at the right price and not buy on impulse. I am proud that as my children have grown, they have learned to establish priorities with how they spend their money. But miraculously, they all seem more capable than I of intelligently buying that extra something for a simchas yom tov. I need to learn from you and them!

  7. Yocheved

    Nu, so where’s the picture of you in the new hat?

  8. תתחדשי!

    Picture please!

  9. Hadassah

    Wear it in good health for many happy occasions!

  10. So happy you bought the one you liked yay!
    ☺️

  11. BRAVO! i think you talk with a lot of modesty and rouhaniout of what is in all women’s hearts, this struggle especially in a world where everything is about buying!! a struggle for our family, our well being, our mental joy and being reasonable at the same time!!

  12. יקרת

    ג’ני אהובתי, סיפור יפהפה ונראה לי שהכותרת שלו היא “להיות בת חורין”.
    בת חורין – לרצות
    בת חורין – להוציא
    בת חורין – לאהוב
    בת חורין – לפתוח את הלב ואת היד.
    צ’או
    אוהבת אותך

    • JewishMom

      thank you Yikrat! It is in your zchut and the zchut of rabbanit yemima that I know about this mitzvah and take it so seriously!!! so thank you and yasher koach for all your holy work:)

  13. BH

    Hi Chana lovely story – good advice & good ending!
    love to get things for Yom Tov if not extravagant & makes us feel good about the Chag!
    shulamit

  14. jenny, please dont drop out of sight before the chag wihout showing us the lavender hat! it’s going to bring simchas yom tov to all of us!

  15. I think what you proved here is that sometimes a want is truly a need…. Especially for women who’s default setting is to give!
    Often I leave something I’m intensely drawn to and come back days later. If I am still so drawn to it and will literally feel sad to walk away, I buy it ( only if I can afford it of course)… Some people (me!) have souls that are very drawn towards aesthetics and this principle is even more important for us!!

Leave a Reply