Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Frugal Torah: Parshat Balak

This week's Torah Portion is  is Parshat Balak (Numbers 22:2 - 25:9).  It contains a rather famous story about Bilaam, who was hired by Israel's enemies to deliver a horrible curse.  When he reached the top of the mountain from which he was to curse the people, he saw their community and out of his mouth flowed the famous praise:
"How good are your tents, O Jacob, and your sanctuaries, O Israel!"  This curse-turned-blessing is recited at the beginning of morning prayers every day. 

It centers us, and reminds us that our homes and the places that we call our own are one of the greatest blessings in our lives.

This teaches us that one of the most important ways to bring joy to our lives and to stay grounded and grateful for all that we have is to invest a lot of energy into whatever place we call home.  That could mean our school, our synagogue, and, of course, our family home.

Here are some ways that our family invests energy in our home:
  • We enjoy mealtime together.  I don't eat meals at the same time as the boys (David and I like to eat during later, calmer times of the day) but I always sit with them or stay in the same room and talk to them about their day.
  • We keep the house (generally) uncluttered and clean.  This contributes to my sense of calm and happiness while I'm in my house. 
  • We decorate with things that make us happy.  Our walls are covered with photos, Jewish art, our ketubah, and other things that make us smile whenever we see them.
All of these things  are not only cost-free or inexpensive, but actually have the happy side effect of saving us money.  When we eat together, it means we're not spending money eating out and on-the-go.  When we keep our house clean and uncluttered, it means that we know what things we have, what we need, and we're not tempted to buy new things because we take care of what we have.  And decorating with photos and homemade art (I'll do a more in-depth post about that) is much less expensive than buying things to put on the walls, and much more personal to boot.

How do you invest energy into your "home"?  How does it add value to your life?  Does it have the happy side effect of saving you money?


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