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There are times when someone inadvertently does something good for you. Do you have to be makir tov then as well? Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz says yes. He points out that when Moshe Rabbeinu came to the well and Midyan he was able to save the daughters of Yisro. They told their father that an “ish Mitzri” helped them. Moshe chimed in and said, “Do not thank me; rather, thank the ish Mitzri that I killed in Mitzrayim because his death caused me to flee and save you.” The Medrash relates the following mashal: A man is bitten by a wild donkey. The bite leaves a cut which gets infected. The man runs to the lake to clean it out. While there, he sees a baby drowning in the lake. He saves the baby and the baby’s family is ecstatic. They ask how they can thank him. The man responds, “Don’t thank me; thank the wild donkey that bit me; the cut caused me to run to the lake.” We must have hakarat hatov to those who helped us, even those who had no intention of assisting us.

With siyatta d’Shmaya, if we use hakarat hatov as our guiding light in areas of bein adam l’chaveiro we can eradicate disputes and machloket in our community. We can learn to be grateful to Hashem for what we have – and not be kvetchers and complainers about the state of our lives. Let us make this middah a focus and become true mentchen, the way Hashem wants us to be. Thank you for reading.

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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.
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