web analytics
September 2, 2015 / 18 Elul, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


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.

Current Top Story
President Obama in the fog.
US Says It Doesn’t Even Know How Many Americans Live in West Bank
Latest Sections Stories
Lunchbox Restaurant in Tel Aviv.

Bringing your own sandwich to a restaurant would appear as the height of chutzpah, but not any more—at least not at Lunchbox…

Recipe-082815-LChaim-cookbook

Last year, OneFamily published a cookbook in Hebrew featuring the bereaved mothers’ recipes.

Astaire-082815-Books

How did an unresolved murder case turn into an accusation of ritual murder?

Recipe-082815-Apple-cover

Excerpted from The Apple Cookbook (c) Olwen Woodier. Photography by (c) Leigh Beisch Photography with Food Stylist Robyn Valarik. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.

The flag had been taken down in the aftermath of the Charleston shooting and was now back and flying.

A light breakfast of coffee and danishes will be available during the program.

A variety of glatt kosher food will be available for purchase at Kosher Korner (near Section 1).

Jewish Press South Florida Editor Shelley Benveniste will deliver a talk.

Corey Brier, corresponding secretary of the organization, introduced the rabbi.

The magnificent 400-seat sanctuary with beautiful stained glass windows, a stunning carved glass Aron Kodesh, a ballroom, social hall, and beis medrash will accommodate the growing synagogue.

Even when our prayers are ignored and troubles confront us, Rabbi Shoff teaches that it is the same God who sent the difficulties as who answered our prayers before.

I’ve put together some of the most frequently asked questions regarding bullies, friendship and learning disabilities.

His parents make it clear that they feel the right thing is for Avi to visit his grandfather, but they leave it up to him.

More Articles from Cheryl Kupfer
Kupfer-On-Our-Own-NEW

What I call verbal terrorism is tragically not rare at all.

Kupfer-060515-Supermen

There are fathers who bravely step up to the plate and fill in the maternal vacuum with their love and devotion.

The message being conveyed is that without “flour,” without the means to support oneself and one’s family, one’s focus on Torah will be impeded by worry.

Divorce from a vindictive, cruel spouse can be a lifelong nightmare when there are offspring.

Not knowing any better, I assumed that Molly and her mother must be voracious readers.

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

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.

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: