Hi, I’m Amy, and I’m the creator of the Bal Tachshis Balabusta!
Everything that comes to us, everything, is from HaKadosh Barukh Hu. But sometimes, in our rush to get everyone out the door to school, drive carpool, get to work, keep our boss and coworkers and customers happy, make dinner, make Shabbos, shop, make Yom Tov, do chessed, build up the community (and more, and more, and more), we don’t stop to think about the things HaShem is giving us: Where are they coming from, where are they going to, and are we treating them with the respect and consideration they deserve?
Slowing down and focusing on those things has helped me connect to HaShem in a new and deeper way, to live a life of where every moment can be one of choosing the good, of feeling gratitude for HaShem, and for showing him I value the world he has given me. As Rabbi Simcha Bunim urged us to remember with a note in our pocket: Bishvili nivra ha-olam “The world was created for me.”
It’s a huge, overwhelming thought. HaShem created this whole world just for me? How on earth can I properly thank HaShem for that? I am a work in progress, being mindful about my possessions, about my purchases, and what happens to things when I am done with them. In this way, I think, I am hearing HaShem’s call not to destroy the world through my actions, bal tashchit (Devarim 20:19).
And there is another reminder from Rabbi Simcha Bunim, the one he urged us to keep in our other pocket: v’anochi afar v’efer “I am but dust and ashes.” (Bereishis 18:27) HaShem created us perfectly, a perfectly closed loop: We come from earth, and to earth we will return. How can I come closer to HaShem’s model, by making sure the things I bring into my life come into being with the least waste possible and return as closely as possible to the state they came from?
The blog is called The Bal Tachshit Balabusta: In Search of a Low-Waste Frum Life. I’m not properly thanking HaShem, and I’m not emulating Him as much as I could be. This blog is about moving toward that goal, step-by-step.
So who am I?
- My name is Amy Newman Smith, and I live in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, with my husband Matt and my three children, Raizy, Talia, and Boaz, who range in age from 10 to 16.
- I’m the managing editor of the Jewish Review of Books, a quarterly magazine and website of the best writing about Jewish books, Jewish life, Jewish culture, and Jewish history you’ll find anywhere.
- I’m not a Jewish Martha Stewart, or anything close. I’m searching for real, sustainable ways to live, not trying to keep up with the Cohens.
- My only faith is Judaism. I’m also not a zero-waste fanatic, so you won’t see me posing with the year’s worth of trash in a mason jar. What you will see, I hope, is the way my faith informs the way I live, and how the way I live day by day brings me closer to HaShem.