web analytics
September 1, 2014 / 6 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Appreciation: Spiritual Penicillin

Kupfer-051013

One of the subjects I was taught as a young child in school was Tefillah. Since we spoke only Ivrit during our Limudei Kodesh and secular Hebrew studies – literature, creative writing and Jewish history – we pretty much understood the words we were davening.

I thus became aware at an early age that a great majority of our prayers involve thanking Hashem, and praising Him for what we acknowledge is the plethora of kindnesses and benefits we experience on a daily basis.

It seems we thank Him constantly. Every commonplace action – eating or going to the bathroom – comes connected to a “Baruch Ata Hashem.”

As I got older, I began to wonder why G-d needed so much praise and appreciation. After all, I thought to myself, He isn’t human – why did he seemingly need to have His “ego stroked”- so to speak – why the constant “pats on the back” and verbal affirmation about how great and kind He is, especially from non-entities like us.

And it’s not like it’s voluntary. We are required to express our gratitude!

Why is the Creator of the Universe so adamant that we insignificant mortals sing His praises from the minute we wake up until the moment we go to sleep?

Wouldn’t it be enough to say one bracha in the morning, “Thank you for everything” and be covered for the rest of the day? Why do we have to utter a blessing every time we pop a candy or apple into our mouths?

I came to realize that our Creator truly does not need our adulation; rather we need to express it. It is to our great benefit to pause, think about the fact, for example, that we have food and are able to eat it, and thus walk away with sweet recognition that we actually “have it good.”

Frequent and timely awareness of someone or something that enriches our lives can dispel sadness, hopelessness and anger. Hakarat hatov – recognition of the good things granted us – is spiritual penicillin that helps us beat back the toxic germs of despair and despondency that threaten our emotional, mental and even our physical wellbeing.

Instead of complacently and mindlessly taking our everyday abilities and routines for granted, when we see them as daily gifts, we realize that our chelek, our “lot” in life is actually quite amazing.

The sage Ben Zoma asks in Pirkei Avot “who is rich?” and answers, “one who is satisfied with his lot.” (In essence one who appreciates what he has and what he can do). It follows then that the reverse is, who is poor? He who is unappreciative of his status quo – of his lot.

Since “poor” people are considered as if they are dead – one can only conclude that those, who as the song goes, “can’t get no satisfaction”, those who chronically complain and whine and feel deprived are viewed as being dead.

By constantly thanking and blessing Hashem with our tefillot, we remind ourselves of all that we do have, which leads to being “satisfied” – and feeling very much alive.

Ironically, by having hakarat hatov, being aware that “services have been rendered” on our behalf, we come to realize that we are valued, cherished and beloved.

Hakarat hatov develops and enhances the “giver’s” positive view of him/herself. Babies and young children develop healthy egos and thrive when they become aware that their needs are always being addressed and tended to. The message they internalize is that they are special; they are worthy and prized.

At the end of the day, Hashem does not need or benefit from our expressions of appreciation, from our hakarat hatov – we do, and so do those whose path connects with our own.

By frequently thanking Hashem, we get into the habit of thanking the people in our lives – family members, friends and even strangers – and that action is the key ingredient for shalom bayis, at home, in the workplace, and everywhere else.

Awareness of a chesed or favor – and verbalizing praise and thanks – are the nutrients that nourish a relationship through the best of times and the worst of times. A lack of hakarat hatov causes acidic resentment, anger, hurt and bitterness that gradually eats away at the relationship and dissolves it.

About the Author:


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.

7 Responses to “Appreciation: Spiritual Penicillin”

  1. Orah Peer says:

    Great Article! Thank you Sheryl.

  2. Orah Peer says:

    Awareness of a chesed or favor – and verbalizing praise and thanks – are the nutrients that nourish a relationship through the best of times and the worst of times. A lack of hakarat hatov causes acidic resentment, anger, hurt and bitterness that gradually eats away at the relationship and dissolves it.

  3. Orah Peer says:

    Sometimes silence is not golden. Not opening your mouth and giving a compliment, or recognizing a favor – in other words taking someone for granted and making them feel worthless – can cause the same feelings of hurt and rejection as effectively as saying something negative or critical.

  4. Orah Peer says:

    G-d does not need our appreciation. But other human beings do. By having us constantly thank Him, G-d is training us to get into the habit of practicing hakarat hatov with the people with whom we share our earthly space. It is the road that leads to shalom bayis and peace in general.

  5. Orah Peer says:

    wow,magnificent.

  6. Orah Peer says:

    betw/ us most pple don't have appreciation & that's why many pple are miserable…

  7. Orah Peer says:

    my fav Author.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Candy-laden bulletin board greets children on their first day of school in the lobby of an Efrat apartment building. Sept. 1, 2014.
The message reads:
"To our dear children ... may it be a year of fun and happiness in your studies." 
Did You Know September 1 is an Israeli National Holiday?
Latest Sections Stories
LBJ-082914

What better proof do we need than the recent war with Hamas in Gaza, dubbed “Operation Protective Edge,” that transformed the pain and suffering of three families into a sense of unparalleled unity and outpouring of love of the entire nation of Israel?

Katzman-082914

So many families are mourning, and all along we mourned with them.

Astaire-082914

In addition to his great erudition, Rabi Akiva was known for his optimism.

Kupfer-082914-Chuppah

She told me that she was busy and that he could sit in his wet clothes for the rest of the day. It would teach him to be more careful.

What can we do to help him stop feeling so sad all the time?

Children with dyslexia or dysgraphia frequently have problems in social relationships.

Israel’s neighbors engaged in hostilities from the onset. The War of Independence was a hard-won battle. Aggression and enmity has followed for 66 years.

The contest will include student-created sculpture, computer graphic design, collage, videography, PowerPoint and painting.

David, an 8-year-old boy on the autism spectrum, recently attended a Friendship Circle event. As he entered he told his Dad, “I love coming to the FC programs ‘cause everyone loves each other.”

Goldsmith himself went on his own “voyage of discovery” to the places where his grandfather and uncle landed and were sent.

Frank proclaimed himself Zvi’s successor and the reincarnation of King David.

You’re probably wondering why the greatest advocate of fast and easy preps in the kitchen is talking about layer cakes, right?

Almost immediately the audience began singing and clapping and continued almost without stop throughout the rest of the concert.

As of late, vintage has definitely been in vogue in the Orthodox community.

More Articles from Cheryl Kupfer
Kupfer-080114

Unpleasant happenings are quickly discarded if they do not affect us directly.

Kupfer-071814

I have always insisted that everything that happens to anyone or anything is min Shamayim.

It is so hurtful to heighten people’s sense of inadequacy and guilt in a matzav that is already horrendous and difficult to bear.

Make no mistake: in the wrong hands cars are weapons of mass destruction.

Where once divorce in heimische communities was relatively uncommon, nowadays every family has a son, daughter, sibling cousin who is divorced – sometimes twice or even three times!

Many go about the business of living frum, observant lives, but they are only going through the motions.

Lately I have been hearing quiet grumblings from people who admit that they regret not encouraging their sons to get a post-high school education after a year or two of learning.

While it would seem from his question that he is being chuzpadik and dismissive, I wonder if its possible, if just maybe, he is a struggling, confused neshama who actually wants to come back to the fold.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/on-our-own/appreciation-spiritual-penicillin/2013/05/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: