I always seem to collect things, and I have a difficult time getting rid of the things that I collect. My children are always telling me to clean out the house, to get rid of old clothes, old trinkets, old toys. "Throw them away," they tell me, "They're junk. Nobody needs them." But something within me cannot do it. Even when cleaning for Passover, I have a hard time doing that.

Not because I am materially oriented and cannot part with those things, but because my motherly/grandmotherly instinct is always looking at those "things" as being potentially useful to someone -now or in the future. It has become almost a creative effort.

I am always looking at those "things" as being potentially useful How can I throw away a nice dress, even if it is five sizes too small for my children, when one day one of my granddaughters could possibly wear that dress? Maybe she will visit my house and will need a change of clothing- and I would have a dress on hand! My imagination works constantly.

I remember grabbing shoe boxes before they went into the garbage- only to turn them into beautiful houses that my children spent hours decorating and making into palaces for their paper dolls.

I remember hiding scraps of material which my children later used to decorate their doll houses. Why should I throw that potential for happiness into the garbage?

By me, nothing is wasted.

I collect old jars and bottles. You never know if one day you will want to make pickles and will need a jar! Or someone will travel and will need a bottle for water. Why buy water when you can bring your own?

Practical, that is what it is. I try to make life practical and easy.

If G‑d in His infinite wisdom gave me a certain thing, I want to use it for something and to make my life easier or more enjoyable. After all, we are taught not to waste things.

And if my children or grandchildren can find happiness in something that I have kept for years, why not? My grandchildren are still playing with the same doll my married daughter used to play with. Yes, I admit that I kept it for 27 years. And it has a lot of sentimental value. But I derive much joy seeing my grandchildren playing with the same doll my baby played with. I even kept my own baby clothes and my grandchildren used them. Those days, the quality of clothing was exceptional.

Our "collector" mode is not necessarily an obsessive disorderNow flash back to fifteen years ago. We were moving. My husband was already in our new location (a new country!), and I was back home- packing up and finalizing things. Should I throw out or give away that huge roll of plastic wrap? Or pack it up with our furniture? My children said to me "Mummy, where we are going you could buy another roll. Why schlep it? Just leave it here"

But a little voice told me "No, take it with you. You never know..."

Should I throw out our broom? Our big roll of tin foil? Those old clothes that are beginning to look a bit like rags?

No, something told me to bring everything. I even collected all the Chanukah dreidels my children had over the years, lovingly wrapped them up in a special box and took them with me. Those I would carry myself- my special treasure.

Sure enough, when we arrived at our new destination every single thing came in handy. The children did not stop marveling at my wisdom. Even my husband looked favorably impressed. Instead of having to run around like crazy people in a foreign country- where we had no idea where to try to buy plastic wrap, tin foil, paper goods, this thing or that thing- I had it all with me and we could slowly unpack in peace and get accustomed to our new surroundings, without feeling desperately in need of things. Even the old clothing came in handy- some as clothes and some, believe it or not, as much needed rags when we had water leaking and flooding the house and we had nothing to clean it up with. My rag collection came in very useful over the years! Everything saved us time, energy and even money. Even the old broom came in handy!

And what about the dreidels you might ask? Well, the evening of Chanukah, everyone began to wonder where we would find dreidels. There was no Judaica store around the corner in this place.

I whipped out my trusty box of dreidels and, to the delight of my children, spilled the contents on the floor. They squealed with happiness and surprise as they ran around picking up all the different dreidels: the big fat wooden one, the small wooden one, the different colored plastic ones (fighting over who would get the purple or the gold one), the dreidel that sang a song as it spun, the dreidel that flashed its lights as it turned round and round...

And at the end of Chanukah I lovingly gathered all those dreidels up and I packed them away again for the next year. You never know where you will be or when you will need them, I told my family with a smile.

I also collected the leftover beeswax candles. I knew they would come in handy the next year. Those are hard to find. And sure enough, next Chanukah they all got used. Everyone forgot to plan in advance for those candles and dreidels, but that little collector voice within me had not forgotten.

I once received in the mail, as a "reward" for a charitable donation, a wooden spoon and a feather to be used for bedikat Chametz (when checking the house for leavened products the night before Passover, there is a custom to sweep some of the crumbs into a wooden spoon using a feather). Do you think I tossed it in the garbage? No, it went into a special cupboard and a few days before Passover, when we all realized we had forgotten to order a bedikat Chametz set, I whipped out my little package and we were all smiling from ear to ear.

So am I eccentric? Too extreme? Maybe, but I have learned to value things and my children have learned to value things, too. If you have an old one, why throw it out to get a new one? Use the old one until you cannot use it anymore. If you were given something, consider it something that G‑d wants you to use for holiness, to elevate.

If a dress is clean, good quality and nice, why should I throw it away? One of my grandchildren will wear it! And if they don't, someone else's child will.

I do admit that giving those old things to charity or to needy people is also tremendously satisfying, and as of late I have started doing that with the things I am quite sure will not be used anytime soon by my family. I like to teach my children to give to others as well. It is an important part of education. After all, G‑d gives to us constantly and we have to reciprocate and give to others with a good heart and a good eye.

But I still have an eye open for what my children or grandchildren would like and could enjoy.

That does not mean I don't buy new things. I do. When something is needed, I spend and I buy. But when something is old and can be used, why not use it? Society puts constant pressure on people to buy new, to throw out old things, but that is not really such a Jewish idea. We Jews are not wasteful. We recognize value. We recognize potential. And it is the same with our experiences in life. We collect experiences and use them throughout our lives. Nothing is a mistake. Nothing is for nothing. Everything we learn we can use at some point in time.

We learn from others and we integrate what we learn and incorporate that into our lives.

And doesn't G‑d collect our good deeds, our prayers? He also collects and uses everything, even at a "later date." Nothing is forgotten. Nothing is lost.

The fact that we have been given a particular material thing is because we have to elevate it: it contains sparks connected to our souls and we have to elevate that thing. We elevate it, and elevate ourselves as well and when we throw something away it is like throwing out a part of ourselves, something that we have made holy.

I always tell my children that if you go shopping and you buy a certain dress, it is because you have to elevate that dress. If you want something very much and do not get it, that is because perhaps it is not your task to elevate that particular thing. Every soul is different.

So my job as a collector continues- but I pray that I should use the things I acquire for the good; for holy purposes.

Next time you are tempted to throw something into the garbage, pay attention to that inner voice or inner instinct that says "wait, you never know, it could come in handy one day". It really could. Our "collector" mode is not necessarily an obsessive disorder. It is rather a spiritual need to use what we are given in life and to elevate whatever we have and make it holy.