Alright, this is it – my final response on TLS on this maddening issue of materialism, and I’m not holding back.
The letters I originally wrote clearly set off a firestorm. Let’s get one thing straight: I’m not here to play the role of a sanctimonious baal mussar, preaching from on high about how you should lead your life.
Do whatever you want. As long as you’re not blatantly violating Halacha, go ahead and immerse yourself in your world of Moose Knuckles fashion, Tesla glamour, and extravagant Wagyu beef steaks.
But here’s the problem.
My grandchildren are growing up in Lakewood, a place we chose for its ultra-orthodox, Torah-centric ethos – something you just don’t find in other communities.
This isn’t to chas veshalom belittle other communities, but to highlight our unique commitment to Torah and Yiddishkeit, evident in our Yeshiva curricula, the various chumras we adhere to, and the myriad of religious nuances that define our chosen way of life as the Am Hanivchar.
Now, here’s the infuriating part. These kids are being told day in and day out by their Rebbeim that Torah is everything, that it should be the guiding star of their lives. And then what? They step outside and see everyone in their community chasing after materialism like it’s going out of style. Talk about a slap in the face!
And let’s not ignore the glaring divide between kids in Lakewood or Toms River, and those from places like Flatbush or Five Towns.
My young grandchildren in Woodmere talk about books, games, and bicycles. In contrast, my Lakewood grandchildren’s conversations revolve around Rechnitz, Louie Scheiner’s private jet, and Range Rovers. If that doesn’t scream ‘problem’, I don’t know what does.
Ask any mental health expert in Lakewood what’s eating at our youth. I did. And guess what? It’s this ridiculous, hypocritical clash of values they see every single day.
When I said our children are performing mental gymnastics, it wasn’t a joke. It’s a serious problem. They’re seeing a gaping chasm between the values they’re taught and the lifestyle paraded in front of them by the very adults they’re supposed to look up to. It’s messing with their heads!
So, keep doing your thing, if you must. But at least have the decency to keep your ostentatious display of materialism away from the kids. Enough is enough. Let’s start showing them what truly matters in life, not just what sparkles the brightest.
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