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September 29, 2016 / 26 Elul, 5776
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Appreciation: Spiritual Penicillin

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It is precisely because getting appreciation and validation is a very human need that Hashem in His wisdom engineered that giving thanks become second nature to us – which is directly achieved by showing Him constant hakarat hatov for what He does for us.

He wants from us to get into the “habit” of being conscious of chesed and expressing gratitude and appreciation, because doing so leads to a happier and successful life. In His eyes we are like young children, who must be trained to behave a certain way. This is best done by constant repetition. Every time a mother and her child are about to cross the street, she will admonish him/her to look both ways. After a while it becomes the child’s custom to do so before stepping off the curb. Likewise, when we constantly thank Hashem for His thousands of kindnesses, it becomes routine to us to do so.

Lashon hatov – praise and positive speech is a by-product of hakarat hatov . Failure to verbally express appreciation is a form of lashon harah. As I see it lashon harah occurs in two ways: By actively “bad-mouthing” somebody, denigrating some aspect of the person, or criticizing something they did, or failed to do.

Or by saying nothing.

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.

Just because a wife, for example, has prepared a thousand suppers for her husband does not mean that it is something that should be expected day after day. Every adult Jew has eaten thousands upon thousands of meals – yet Hashem expects us to say a blessing of thanks each time. He is teaching us that no matter how familiar or frequent something is – like a meal provided by Him and prepared by a wife or mother – it should never be taken for granted and go unappreciated.

By the time someone is 20, they have woken up over 7000 times. But each time we get up we utter the Modeh Ani prayer, thanking G-d for letting us wake up to continue our lives.

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.

Thanking Hashem also enhances our own capacity for happiness as it heightens our awareness of all the good we might have otherwise missed by virtue of their everydayness.

For that reason alone, He deserves our eternal praise.

Cheryl Kupfer

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

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