web analytics
November 28, 2014 / 6 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



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
IDF Chief Rabbi Rafi Peretz delivers lecture.
IDF Chief Rabbi: Nothing is Holy to Muslims on Temple Mount except Al Aqsa
Latest Judaism Stories
Parsha-Perspectives-NEW

A person who truly feels that everything is a blessing from G-d will count his blessings and realize just how much he has.

The Story of Jacob and Esau (2010) 11 x 19, bronze relief by Lynda Caspe. Courtesy Derfner Judaica Museum – Hebrew Home at Riverdale

Yaacov returns the stolen blessing of material wealth and physical might to Esav

Rapps-Rabbi-Joshua-logo

The Jew, from the perspective of the name Yaakov, is dependent on the non-Jewish world. This can be seen today in the relationship between the State of Israel and the United States

Lessons-Emunah-logo

Yet, ultimately, looking back, these “setbacks” turned out to be really for the patient’s best – for the good.

In the afternoon, he reached into his pocket to check for the money, but it was empty. “The $50 bill must have fallen out,” Alex exclaimed. “It’s got to be in one of the rooms I was just at.”

Although the conversion ceremony involves more than circumcision and immersion, these are the two essential requirements, without which the conversion is ineffective.

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Rashi in Shabbos 9b writes that the reason why the tefillah of Ma’ariv is a reshus is because it was instituted corresponding to the burning of the eimurim from the korbanos – which was performed at night.

It almost sounds as if Hashem is saying, “I have to keep Yaakov from getting too comfortable; otherwise he will forget Me. I can’t promise him sustenance because then he won’t need Me. He won’t write. He won’t call. He won’t love Me anymore.”

The Decree Of 1587
“Two Kabs Of Dinars Were Given…To King Yanai”
(Yevamos 61a)

Simply too many cases of prayers being answered to deny it makes a difference to our fate. It does.

Prayer is our language: Hakol kol Yaakov – the voice is the voice of Jacob – the voice of prayer.

Jacob cries, overcome by the knowledge that his great love for Rachel will end in unbearable pain.

There’s a perfect mirror between Jacob running away from Esav to when he reunites with his brother.

Yitzhak called you Esav and you answered him, then he called you Yaakov and you also answered him!”

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: