Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

29 Adar 5759 - March 17, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly

















Home and Family
Small Benefits
By Esther Susan Heller

Baal tashchis: I've always felt uncomfortable about this. I feel that I'm not careful enough. I should be less wasteful. In today's society, even when we make an effort to be thrifty, our results are small compared to earlier generations. After all, how many people save string nowadays? [I knew someone who washed out the plastic milk bags to save as sandwich bags; even before Tnuva had campaigns.] But then there are the "decluttering" experts. They inform us that if something hasn't been used in a year, get rid of it. The idea of a clutter-free home competes with the ideal of not being wasteful. What's a conscientious homemaker to do?

Well, of course, I would rather give things away than throw them away, or save them because I don't know what else to do with them. Sometimes, however, this is not so easy. How do I find people that need the very things I no longer want? This dilemma is especially pronounced during the annual pre- Pesach cleaning experience when moments of truth occur in nearly every drawer and cabinet.

Baruch Hashem for siyata dismaya, for how else would I manage?

Hashem sent me special help this year through an emissary. Her name is Mikimi and she comes each week to help with my laundry. But her help extends far beyond my washing machine. The following is an actual example of a typical Wednesday afternoon.

Mikimi enters the kitchen for a coffee break. I happen to be going through my cabinets where baskets are overflowing into one other.

Mikimi: I saw a pair of tights in the wastebasket.

Me: Well, the elastic is stretched out.

Mikimi: I know someone who could use them. You see, her daughter has a large waist.

Me: Great. Take them. (I am holding five packages of Taco Seasoning Mix that came as part of a Taco dinner. The taco shells were eaten months ago and no one in our family will ever want these.

Mikimi, would you happen to know anyone who could use these?

Mikimi: (without a moment's hesitation) Marla would love them. (This is someone I run into about once a year and lives on the other end of town.)

Mikimi: I'll be seeing her next week. I'll give them to her. (She puts them into her tote bag next to the tights.)

As if on cue, the phone rings. Gittel asks me if I could use any flour. She has too many bags to use up before Pesach.

Me: No, I'm trying to use mine up, but Mikimi is here, let me ask her.

Mikimi: (Again without missing a beat) Ask Avriel. She makes bagels every week.

Me: (I feel that we're on a roll here.) My kids have decks of cards with cards missing. They don't want to play with them.

Mikimi: Give them to me next week. I'll match them up with the stray cards I keep at home and return full sets to you.

This reminds me of her button collection which has helped me salvage several outfits with unusual buttons.

Before she leaves I ask her one more question. "What about the ultimate homemaker plight? Single socks?"

She pauses for a moment and then answers thoughtfully: "I'm sure that if everyone in town gave me their unpaired socks, I'd be able to match them up..."

[Your Editor can't help throwing in a last word or two: 1)This Mikimi sounds like a Philipina (new female conjugation) but this Heaven-sent wonder must have a name designated by Heaven - mikimi mei'ofor - one who salvages from the dustbins. And 2) did you know that many local gemachs have button collections? Before a garment is discarded, they snip off the buttons and bag them and these can be tremendous savings. And, by the way, if the gemachs have stopped accepting by now, save your GOOD things for after Pesach, when they can handle them again.]


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