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Needs vs. Wants

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

As the seasons make their turn towards Winter, my children become fixated with the prospect of Chanukah and its gift-giving, or, in this case gift-receiving, property. Not a day passes without a new item added to an ever-growing list of …chazarei. Stuff. Junk. Clutter. Define it any which way you please. If you are a youngster, you might define such items as necessities. “I really NEED that Barbie. And her summer vacation home. And her pony.” Or “I totally NEED some new games for my DS and for my Wii because I’m bored with all the ones I already have.”

A wise friend recently shared with me a philosophy that she and her husband used with their now-grown children:

We may never give you everything you want. But know that we will always give you everything you need.

What a great philosophy. And what a great lesson for our children and for ourselves. There is a difference between “wants” and “needs.” Between that which we desire and that which are essential for our survival.
This year, under the direction of our Religious School Educator, our shul has embraced a project called Nothing But Nets. Its mission is to provide nets for families living in malaria-infested communities throughout Africa. We don’t know from Malaria here in America because it was eradicated by the early 1950’s. But it is a daily reality for those who live in tropical and subtropical climates in Africa and Asia.

Malaria is a disease caused by the blood parasite Plasmodium, which is transmitted by mosquitoes.
Malaria, from the Medieval Italian words mala aria or “bad air,” causes 350 million to 500 million illnesses per year and kills more than one million people – mostly children under the age of five. Malaria is particularly devastating in Africa, where it is a leading killer of children. In fact, there are 10 new cases of malaria every second. Every 30 seconds, a child in Africa dies from a malaria infection.

The worst part is that malaria, and its subsequent fatalities, is avoidable with the use of prophylactic drugs, mosquito eradication, and the prevention of mosquito bites. And the most effective prevention of bites from these nocturnal insects is an insecticide-treated net. Nets that are beyond the monetary reach for those most in danger of contracting malaria. Imagine for just a moment not having enough money to purchase one net that will, not could, but will save the lives of your family. That is the economic reality for thousands of people like you and me. That net? That is a “need.”

Instead of adding to the already-looming inventory of the latest and greatest fads and fashions, why not consider making a significant difference in the lives of others this Chanukah. Making a $10.00 donation in honour of a loved one to this grass-roots organization will help save a family. And will give each one of us the opportunity to provide a true need during this season of gift-giving.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Tuesday, 8 December 2009 9:29 pm

    so great.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Monday, 14 December 2009 12:54 pm

      Thank you. Upon reading an earlier version of this post in our shul bulletin, my grandparents decided to support Nothing But Nets in honour of all of their kids and grandkids this year for Chanukah. And Beernut and Poppyseed chose to purchase nets in honour of their Religious school and Hebrew school teachers.

      As Rabbi Tarfon taught “it’s not up to us to complete the task…but neither are we free to desist from it!”

  2. Tuesday, 8 December 2009 9:42 pm

    Well said.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Monday, 14 December 2009 12:52 pm

      Thanks. I know that my kids get annoyed that their complaints of not getting what they want or that they are starving results in some comment on Darfur or Somalia or the Congo. But I do believe that it is an important lesson for them to learn. And though they find me annoying, they do understand their role in helping to perfect our broken world as evidenced by comments they make as well as their unprompted actions of tzedakah.

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