web analytics
September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » Judaism » Torah »

The Beauty Of Gratitude

YU-021513-Gratitude

Of all the middot tovot that should be part of one’s personality, the central and most paramount is hakrat hatov, the binyan av of all good middot. If one possesses hakarat hatov, all other good characteristics will flow from it; humility, anger management, and a friendly countenance will all emerge from one’s personality. A lack of appreciation for all the good that Hashem, our parents, rebbeim, and friends do for us plagues our community and we should strive to eradicate it from our midst.

The root of the word yehudi means to give thanks. The essence of a being a Jew is having the ability to acknowledge favors people have done for you and to thank them. Moshe Rabbeinu refused to perform the first three plagues, all water-related, because he had been drawn out of the water and saved as a baby. As a result, he felt he couldn’t perform the makkot of dam and tzefardayah, of Blood and Frogs, by hitting the water which had carried him. He also wouldn’t strike the ground to cause kinim, lice, to emerge because he buried the Egyptian he killed in the ground. If we have to show hakrat hatov to inanimate objects, then how much more so must we express gratitude to people who have done good for us.

When the Nazis pillaged Vilna, Rav Gustman zt”l was forced to escape to the forest and be on the run for two years. Six months earlier, Rav Gustman had been walking in the forest with HaRav Chaim Ozer Grodzinski, zt”l. They were speaking in learning and every five minutes, Rav Chaim Ozer would point to a plant and say, “that over there is poisonous and that other plant is fine to eat.” At the time, Rav Gustman thought Rav Chaim Ozer’s behavior was slightly bizarre. However, when he was forced to flee into the forest, he was able to survive using the knowledge about plants Rav Chaim Ozer had taught him. Many years later, when Rav Gustman moved to Eretz Yisrael and opened his yeshiva, Netzach Yisrael, he insisted on watering the bushes outside the yeshiva building. The bochorim implored him, “Rebbi, let us water the bushes.” Rav Gustman resplied, “I have a debt of gratitude to pay to bushes. I must show hakaras hatov, so I will water them myself. They saved me in Europe.”

The Avudraham explains that the reason Modim is the only bracha in Chazaras HaShatz that the tzibbur says is because one cannot give thanks to Hashem through the Sheliach Tzibbur, through a messenger. You have to thank Hashem yourself. It is a personal requirement that does not lend itself to be accomplished through an agent.

HaRav Chaim Shmuelevitz zt”l writes that Eliyahu HaNavi and Elisha felt such outpourings of gratitude to the families that lost their children that Hashem gave them the strength to revive the dead and bring back these children to life. It is only through the middah of hakarat hatov that one could merit receiving this supernatural strength.

The Jewish perspective is not about keeping a scorecard or exercising reciprocity, a quid pro quo. When a person helps us, we must always be makir tov, but not think, “I’ll pay you back, we’re even, and that’s it.” No matter how many times we will have done something for the other person, the feeling of hakarat hatov must always exist. Ammon and Moav saw the relationship between Avraham and Lot this way, Lot went with Avraham to the Land of Canaan and then Avraham redeemed him from captivity making them even. Therefore, in Devarim, when Bnei Yisrael wanted to travel through their land, Ammon and Moav said no. They thought it was all even and there was no reason to show further hakarat hatov. That is not our way – we must always remember and recognize the good another person has done for us.

Also, it is important to point out that there is no statute of limitations when it comes to hakarat hatov The Ksav Sofer relates a teaching of Rashi that Avraham stayed in the same inns when he came back from Mitzrayim as he did when he went down – even though he had become wealthy there. We must never forget those who helped us during our time of need – especially when our life situation changes for the better.

About the Author: Rabbi David Hirsch serves as rosh yeshiva and holds the Eva, Morris and Jack K. Rubin Memorial Chair in Rabbinics at YU-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Beauty Of Gratitude”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
The Port of Oakland, without any docked cargo ships. Is this its future?
Port of Oakland Loses as ZIM Moves to Friendlier Shores
Latest Judaism Stories

On Sunday, Jews will be refraining from food and drink from dawn until sunset to commemorate the Fast of Gedaliah. Following Nebuchadnetzar’s destruction of the First Temple and exile of most of the Jews, the Babylonians appointed Gedaliah ben Achikaam as governor of Judea. Under Gedaliah’s leadership, Judea and the survivors began to recover. On […]

On the beach

As we enter the Days of Awe, we must recognize that it is a joy to honor and serve true royalty.

Rabbi Avi Weiss

On Rosh Hashanah we are taught that true self-analysis involves the breaking down of walls

PTI-092614-Shofar

When we hear the words “Rosh Hashana is coming” it really means Hashem Himself is coming!

Who am I? What are the most important things in my life? What do I want to be remembered for? If, as a purely hypothetical exercise, I were to imagine reading my own obituary, what would I want it to say? These are the questions Rosh Hashanah urges us to ask ourselves. As we pray […]

We recently marked the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11 – that terrible day when the symbols of man’s power and achievement crumbled before our eyes and disappeared in fire and smoke. For a very brief moment we lost our smugness. Our confidence was shaken. Many of us actually searched our ways. Some of us even learned […]

Why am I getting so agitated? And look how we’re treating each other!

While women are exempt from actually learning Torah, they are obligated in a different aspect of the mitzvah.

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

We must eat, sleep, work, and care for our dependants. How much time is left over after all that?

Once we recognize that our separation from God is our fault, how do we repair it?

Chatzitzah And Its Applications
‘Greater Stringency Applies To Hallowed Things…’
(Chagiga 20b-21a)

To choose life, you must examine your actions in the period preceding the Days of Awe as an unbiased stranger, and render your decision.

Rabbi Dayan took a challah and some cooked eggs. He then called over his 15-year-old son, Aharon. “Could you please ask your friend Chaim from next door to come over and help me with the eruv tavshilin?”

This world has its purpose; it has been ideally fashioned to allow man to grow.

More Articles from Rabbi David Hirsch
YU-021513-Gratitude

Modim is the only bracha in Chazaras HaShatz that the tzibbur says is because one cannot give thanks to Hashem through the Sheliach Tzibbur, through a messenger. You have to thank Hashem yourself. It is a personal requirement that does not lend itself to be accomplished through an agent.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/torah/the-beauty-of-gratitude/2013/02/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: