I’m going to confess something to y’all, and I beg of you not to be too hard on me about it, because I already stopped doing it. My wife recently bought a bulk package of like a bajillion paper cups at Sam’s Club. But for some silly reason I really didn’t like them. I think maybe because they’re too waxy or something, I can’t even remember. So I noticed after a little while that I was kind of purposely going through them super fast, so as to use them up and move on to a more satisfactory paper cup. I know, it’s terrible. But once I realized, I stopped and slowed down.

The full quote from the Talmud goes like this: “He remained for the sake of some small jars he had left behind. Hence [it is learned] that to the righteous, their possessions are dearer than their body.” When I rediscovered this statement while looking for ideas for this cartoon, it was kind of counterintuitive for me. Why would a righteous person value possessions more than his/her own body? Why would they value physical possessions at all? So, in comes the Chassidic explanation that there are “sparks of holiness” invested within physical objects, and the righteous perceive this and understand that it is their responsibility to “elevate” those sparks by using the object for good.

The way that’s all coming together in my mind right now is that it is so easy to look at things in terms of what we need them for (valuing ourselves over our possessions). Which isn’t necessarily bad, but is simply insensitive to the fact that this object has its own existence, one that should at least be acknowledged, and perhaps it needs you. If I see a paper cup only as something I can drink from, then I can drink from 20 of them in a row, and they’ll all serve that purpose just fine. But if I see the cup as a part of creation that’s there for a reason and deserves acknowledgement, I might not be so quick to plow through them.