Rav Avigdor Miller on Keeping up with the Joneses

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Q:
How should one curb his desire and the desire of his family to always “keep up with the Joneses”?

A:
Let him listen to these tapes. Play the tapes of these lectures in your home, to your family. It’s of the greatest importance to create an atmosphere of independence in your family – “We don’t follow the crowd!” It’s important. It’s very important. Here’s a man who is in dire straits financially; he’s on the verge of bankruptcy. But he has to marry off a child. And it costs him $50,000. He can’t help himself because his wife is pressing him, “How can we have less? We’ll be ashamed to face our friends. How can we not have this or that?” So this man thinks that he is a prisoner of circumstance. And so he goes even more deeply into debt. He borrows to make an expensive wedding. What a shoiteh he is! What a fool! Who cares what the relatives will say?! Who cares what the neighbors will say?!

You can make a wedding even without a smorgasbord. Oh, of course, it’s apikorsus to say such a thing. Let’s say you were a German Jew. German Jews don’t make a smorgasbord. And therefore, you have a good model to follow. In every aspect of life, we have to learn to be independent – independent of the foolish pressures from outside the home. Because constantly we’re being pressured to spend money, to keep up with the relatives, and with the friends. Therefore, you’re running on a treadmill. You’re a prisoner of nothing, of false ideals. You’re laboring and spending your substance for something that הקדוש ברוך הוא  never required you to do. That’s called wasting your life. You won’t get any reward for it, in this world or in the next world. You won’t get any reward for keeping up with the so-called Joneses or the Levys.

TAPE # 597