Ten years ago, the favorite catch phrase of media pundits was the expression "disposable society." Critics of Western society complained, and still do complain, of there being a generational demand for "instant gratification." This need has not diminished as people have filled their lives with all sorts of gadgets and gizmos to get what they want more quickly.
One of the subtle concepts that is repeated over and over in Jewish life, however, is that nothing is really instant. While the blessings recited over food items recognize God's "hand" in the creation of each item of food, the sage Ben Zoma noted:
"What labors Adam had to carry out before he obtained bread to eat! He ploughed, he sowed, he reaped, he bound [the sheaves], he threshed and winnowed and selected the ears, he ground [them], and sifted [the flour], he kneaded and baked, and then at last he ate; whereas I get up, and find all these things done for me. And how many labors Adam had to carry out before he obtained a garment to wear! He had to shear, wash [the wool], comb it, spin it and weave it, and then at last he obtained a garment to wear; whereas I get up and find all these things done for me. All kinds of craftsmen come early to the door of my house, and I rise in the morning and find all these before me" (Berachot 58a).
While the "instant gratification" we experience today in how we prepare food or buy clothing may make our lives easier, it is a fundamental principle of Jewish life to always take a moment to consider those who made the "gratification" possible.
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