And now, with the recent missile onslaught here in Eretz Yisroel, we must also not make the same mistake. Even though our enemies fired over 1000 missiles at us, the amount of injuries and casualties was extremely low! Let us realize that the only explanation is Hashem’s never-ending protection.
Admit and Thank
Let us now return to the theme of lehodos u’lehalel. The word “hodaah – thanking” has two meanings. One is to admit. The first step in being grateful is to realize that we have received something. Human nature is such that we deny having received so that we do not have to give thanks. The second meaning is the next step: Say thank you! Don’t hold your feelings inside of you; express them to your benefactor.
Now we can understand why Chazal established these days to thank and praise Hashem. On Chanukah we were shown, through a series of miracles, that Hashem is the One “running the show.” Thus, we thank and praise Hashem for all of His kindnesses. First, we admit in Al Hanissim that the wars were won only because Hashem fought them for us. Then, in Hallel we go on to thank Hashem for all the kindnesses we receive on a daily basis. This is because we have now learnt to recognize the miracles that are not as obvious. As we say in Modim in Shemoneh Esreh: “v’al nisecha shebichol yom emanu – we thank You for all the miracles that You do for us each day.” For example, in our brain there are many microscopic blood vessels. If even one would be clogged by a tiny blood clot, the result would be a stroke, chas v’sholom. And yet, it rarely happens! We are not aware of the countless kindnesses Hashem is performing for us constantly.
This revelation also occurs every Shabbos. Because we are less occupied with worldly matters, it is easier to see that Hashem is the Creator of the Universe. This is a day when it is “tov lehodos l’Hashem” – to declare that all is from Him and to praise Him at length for all His ongoing kindnesses. This is why we sing special Shabbos songs – for on this day, when we discover more and more of Hashem’s presence in our world, we celebrate and sing.
During the upcoming days of Chanukah, let us fulfill the spirit of the day. We should say Hallel with feeling and joy – not racing to finish as quickly as possible. And with this lesson it will be easier on Shabbos to find opportunities to thank Hashem as well. Whether its during the extra additions to davening or during the Shabbos zemiros, let us learn to sing to Hashem for as long as we live!
About the Author: Rabbi Eliezer M. Niehaus, raised and educated in Los Angeles and subsequently Yeshivas Toras Moshe in Yerushalayim, is the Rosh Kollel of the Zichron Aron Yaakov Kollel in Kiryat Sefer , Israel. He lectures for the public and is the director of the Chasdei Rivka Free Loan Gemach. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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