Monday, November 21, 2005

Four Levels Of Materialism

Observing the world of materialism, it appears that there are four levels:

Level 1: A person sees something and purchases it.

Level 2: A person sees something, desires it, but cannot afford it.

Level 3: A person sees something unaffordable, desires it, and despises the person who can afford it.

Level 4: A person sees something unaffordable, is happy with what he has, and is not bothered by another person possessing it.

Ironically, Level 3 people do not view themselves as materialistic. They wrongly believe that the fact that they do not have the means to purchase the object of their desire indicates that they do not have the materialistic mindset.

A person, however, can be materialistic without having money.

More thoughts on gashmius can be read here.


At November 21, 2005 at 7:12:00 AM EST, Blogger yitz said...

See today's Lazer Beams for some additional insight on this subject. When you do, we'll be waiting to pick you up at the airport upon your Aliya L'aretz!

At November 21, 2005 at 7:24:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...


I did read Lazer Beams today:

(In fact, I make sure to read it everyday!)

Quite honestly, I do not know if I could handle the issue of "proximity"

See here for an explanation:

At November 21, 2005 at 8:26:00 AM EST, Blogger Chaim said...

ASJ, once again proving our minds re in sync, you should check out my first post this morning.

At November 21, 2005 at 8:29:00 AM EST, Blogger yitz said...

I read it. While it's certainly true, you're not the first person from the "Old Country" that's told me this. I'm afraid that too many of you still in the Diaspora use this as an excuse NOT to make Aliya, and that's a shame!

At November 21, 2005 at 8:38:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Chaim: I did read your posting, and indeed our minds are on the same wavelength today!

Yitz: I don't know how to respond to your comment other than, yes, it is a shame.

For more on this issue, read Rabbi Brody's posting "Does Halacha require a person to move to Israel?"

At November 21, 2005 at 2:11:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How true your comments are.

If we're not careful, we often delude ourselves and rationalize improper thoughts feelings or actions. The self-righteousness of the anti-materialist who is really an materialist, is probably worse than the materialist himself. Thanks for the post - pointing it out keeps us honest.

At home my wife and I have a "sour grapes" alert, which we employ when we want to criticize something. Comments that (even if they're true) are flagged as likely candidates for the "sour grapes" alert, and it costs a dollar to the pushka.

* I can't believe she spent $2000 on a sheitel - and she has two others!
* She wears so much jewelry, it's a wonder she doesn't fall over from the weight!
* They got their parents to buy them a house and start them a business! It's disgusting the way they flaunt their wealth - and they haven't even worked for it.
* They bought a Hummer! What a unnecessary waste of money!

If I can afford it, but decide not to, then I can talk...

At November 21, 2005 at 2:30:00 PM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Chabakuk Elisha: I like your pushka idea. I have found that fining myself for "infractions" is a very good way to keep myself in line. See here:

At November 22, 2005 at 2:46:00 AM EST, Blogger MC Aryeh said...

There is yet another level - A person sees something, desires it, cannot afford it, and buys it anyway... was so much easier not to be caught up in materialism in Israel...

At November 22, 2005 at 3:54:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear ASJ,

Then there are times when valuble lessons are couched within jokes ...

Reb Schmendrik was ... well, he was simply and thoughtlessly covetous ... and so it happened that whatever his neighbor acquired, Reb Schmendrik-caught up in the perils of imitative and conspicuous consumption-acquired for himself too.

One day while watering his lawn in the hopes that it turn as green as his neighbor's, Reb Schmendrik himself turned (you know what color!) as he watched his neighbor drive his brand new Porsche into his driveway. And so did Reb Schmendrik run off to the nearby Porsche dealer and return home with the exact same car, but only when he knew that his neighbor was out watering his lawn. The latter did see Reb Schmendrik's new car and acknowledged it with a faint smile.

Next day RS espied his neighbor tooling about the neighborhood whilst chatting on his new car phone, and so you know that RS sped off to have the very same phone installed in his new car too.

At times "covetousness" goes hand in hand with "obsequiesness" (SIC!) ... and so it was that somehow RS-having managed to get his neighbor's new carphone number-called him while both of them were about in their new Porsches.

RS: "Hey, neighbor! Whatya think of my new car and phone?"

Neighbor: "Will you hold the line Reb Schmendrik? My SECOND LINE is ringing!"


Alan D. Busch

At November 22, 2005 at 6:27:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

-rm: The truth is that we probably all are. However, it is best to aspire to Level 4.

MCAryeh: Very true.

Alan: Thank you very much for the joke. For anything to be funny, it has to have an element of truth contained with it..and indeed your joke does!

At November 26, 2005 at 10:47:00 AM EST, Blogger Karen Jarboe said...

You can thank Aristotle and science for the west's obessesion with materialism. After all science is based on the Aristotelean model of the four causes, which are all dependent on matter.I think Seneca (although a stoic) had some good pointers in dealing with materialsim though. He says, "Inwardly everything should be different but our outward face should conform with the crowd" (37 of Senecea Letters from a Stoic). Seneca argues that while materialism certainly has it's down fall and is in fact contrary to the pursuit of wisdom, one should not deny his/herself of all materialistic comforts, but should arrange his or her living conditions to moderately conform to the conventions of the day. Yet, he or she should understand that even though material objects are in his or her possession they are should not be what makes him or her happy. Only the pursuit of wisdom achieves happiness. Of course the pursuit of happiness can be traslated into many religions!


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