The Simple Life: The Case Against Ostentation in Jewish Law
19 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2013
Date Written: July 1, 2002
While Judaism sees nothing wrong with wealth, it does frown on ostentation. Flaunting wealth has the following deleterious effects: (1) It makes one conspicuous and arouses the envy of others, including enemies of the Jewish people, (2) ostentation can cause people who are not very wealthy to become ashamed of their lack of means, and (3) it can make one arrogant. The purpose of wealth is to help others, not to show it off. This paper will address the attitude of Jewish law towards ostentation. Is one permitted to live an extravagant, opulent, and excessive lifestyle? This paper will demonstrate that a showy, overly materialistic lifestyle is not considered an appropriate lifestyle by Jewish authorities. While it is true that Judaism has a very positive attitude towards wealth and does not generally admire an ascetic way of life, neither does it condone an ostentatious lifestyle.
Keywords: Ostentation, Conspicuous Consumption, Sumptuary Laws, Jewish Law
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