Attention shoppers: ready for the holidays? It’s customary to start the new year with new stuff: a new flavor, fruit or delicacy for the first feast of the year, something new to wear, fresh flowers, gifts to those you love. Doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy – it’s about the intention. Less is more.

But this type of holiday shopping doesn’t have to be just about ‘stuff’. It can also be an opportunity  for healing our relationship with consuming material goods and how bad that relationship sometimes becomes – excess, greed, impulse purchases that accumulate in the back of our closets, more stuff, more guilt.  Can I take this time to think about being a more conscious, responsible consumer?  Is there a spiritual lesson here waiting to be learned? Can this be part of our prepenting process? prep for the holiday with sacred intention – and a dash of sensible style?

My oft-morose, quite brilliant second cousin Daphne Merkin may kill me for this, but I think that in her 

fabulous article in the NYT Styles Magazine   published yesterday,  she IS talking about the spiritual dimension of shopping. “The poetics of shopping  sing out a song of eternally replenished beginnings…,” she writes, describing her summer in Jerusalem, not a shopping Mecca by any means. For Merkin, this provided an opportunity for reflection on what shopping does, or could mean, to the individual  in search of reflection and personal growth, even in unlikely contexts: 

  ” I’ve always thought that the prospect of consumption brings a flash of hope to the grayness of the daily grind even more than actually buying something does, when the possibility of disappointment sets in even as you are handing over your credit card or cash to pay for your purchase. The idea of adding something new to your repertory of belongings — be it as tiny as a modish bottle opener or as large as a cashmere winter coat — seems to suggest by some process of osmosis a change bigger than itself: Life might open up with you in possession of this new item, or you yourself might be ever so slightly revised and adopt a whole new worldview.”

So. shopping? I am going for a new white shirt, maybe a tie, new plants for the garden, treats for the kids, and lots of little organic honey jars as gifts for friends.  Plan ahead. Less IS more. more or less. enjoy.

I'm on PBS's short list of NYC’s Hippest Rabbis for the High Holidays. Ha.


Rabbi Amichai & Lab/Shul’s annual Elul journey into the new Jewish year with 40 daily communally co-created inspirations to help us begin the year with more focus and presence.

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