Prepent 5774: Day 25, A Ritual Outfitting
Labor Day sales and the Rosh Hashanah tradition of buying something new
Journey into the High Holidays with Amichai Lau-Lavie, founder of Storahtelling and the spiritual leader of Lab/Shul. It’s a daily dose of inspiration to get you focused and ready for the new year, featuring daily intentions, simple tasks, and tools for living better.
This year Labor Day Weekend sales coincide with the lovely tradition of getting something new to wear on Rosh Hashanah. Even a pair of socks will suffice. I got a pair of shoes. And for the first time ever, a custom-made suit—it’s that kind of year.
But the Rosh Hashanah tradition is really about a ritual moment, and symbolically new things. The idea is that the new day of the new year deserves a novelty, something worthy of the blessing for the new. Or perhaps it was the ancient idea of an eager shopaholic that made it into the books as a mystical must. Or both?
Prepent Day 25: Think about shopping, excess, and balance. Before heading out to get a fancy new anything, pause to consider three things:
1. How’s my relationship with money, and especially with buying stuff? How many regretted impulse purchases have I made this past year? Late-night clicks on items that I don’t actually need come morning? Or am I too frugal, holding back on things I really need? Or just too broke?
This is a big, stressful issue, so I wouldn’t recommend spending the day looking into bank accounts. Just taking a few minutes to think about what we can do better this year when it comes to managing money can help. Princes and paupers alike, our attitude to money is a key to better balance, dignity, and calm.
2. Get rid of old stuff before you buy anything new. Fall cleaning can generate bags of has-beens that can go to a charity or a donation place nearby. I carried out four big bags just before the weekend, with one going to Shawn Shafner’s 12X12 Project, which recycles old clothes into art.
3. Buying something new to wear for the holiday? Try to buy it from a place that honors the workers, the environment, and your values, not just your fashion sense.
As Rav Kook wrote, though not about fashion, “May the old become new and the new become sacred.”
Follow along with the Scroll’s daily Prepent series here.
Looking back on the year: what books, movies, or TV shows inspired you?