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January 19, 2017 / 21 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

Two Little Words That Go So Far (Part Two)

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Please note: My column was written prior to the tragic news of our three beautiful boys, our three precious sons.

Mah nomar u’mah nedaber – there are no words, no consolation, only tears.

Our hearts are one with the families; know that you are not alone.

We and all of Am Yisrael feel your pain.

Hashem Yerachem Aleinu.


* * * * *

Last week I shared a letter I received expressing gratitude from a woman who had benefited many years ago from our work at Hineni.

Why did I consider it unusual? Don’t people say “thank you” all the time? I’d like to say the answer is yes, or even yes and no, but my experience has shown that very often it is no. Not because people are mean-hearted or nasty. It’s just that it doesn’t occur to them to say it.

Ours is a culture of entitlement. The prevalent attitude is “it’s coming to me; you owe it to me.” In striking contrast, hakaras hatov, gratitude, is one of the main pillars of our faith. Saying a heartfelt “thank you” has no limits. Nor is there an expiration date on it. Thousands of years have passed since our Exodus but to this day at the Seder we thank G-d for every detail of our liberation from Egypt. It may have occurred millennia ago but our indebtedness and gratitude to G-d remain forever.

I am not suggesting that all people are ingrates. There are many who say “thank you” with heartfelt sincerity. But there are many more who accept favors with an attitude of entitlement and feel no reason to display gratitude.

The rationale is simple. If I’m not indebted, I can chose my own way and do my own thing. I’m not bound to anyone. I’m not obligated in anyway.

That attitude has played a major role in the disintegration of the family. You listen to the language that has become acceptable in most households and you shudder with revulsion. If you don’t, it’s only because you’ve gotten used to it.

There are numerous regulations in the Torah that pertain to our relationship with our fathers and mothers. But we are too busy to look at those “atavistic” teachings. We pride ourselves on our scientific and technological know-how. But what good is our ability to reach the moon when we have yet to learn how to reach the heart?

The Torah places honor of parents on the same side of the tablet where our relationship with G-d is declared. There’s a reason for that. If children do not know how to relate to their parents respectfully, they won’t be able to relate to G-d either.

Perhaps now you can better understand why I shared that letter last week. I could write volumes regarding the people who come to my office angry and bitter. “I prayed and G-d let me down,” they say. “What’s the use? I can’t believe in Him anymore. I’m through.”

And there are young people who come to complain about their parents not giving them the financial support they feel is their due. Shalom bayis goes flying out the window when mother and father can’t deliver. This attitude is, of course, antithetical to our Torah way of life.

Hebrew, the holy tongue, is the language of G-d. If we could just focus on the meaning of the words they would give us great insight and understanding. The words for thanks or gratitude, modeh and todah, also mean “to admit.” When we say “thank you” we admit our indebtedness –we acknowledge that kindness and help have been extended to us. It is an admission from the heart that says, loud and clear, “we are grateful.”

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Breakfast And Happiness (Part VI)

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Often people think they will be happy when their goals are met. These goals can be noble, sublime and lofty – but usually they are not. Usually the “happiness” goals are: bright, respected, thin, desirable, and rich. Some of these goals are potentially dangerous[1], but the one that will ensure that happiness will never be achieved is the desire to be rich.

There is nothing wrong with money and there are plenty of philanthropic individuals who have significantly enhanced society. However, one who seeks to be rich in order to be happy has embarked on an endless path, for there is yet an individual who has concluded, “Now I’m rich, now I’m happy, now I’m stopping.”

As Dennis Prager points out: the Forbes 400 (list of America’s wealthiest citizens) is a killer for everyone but Number One. The pain of number 396 is probably only surpassed by number 401. The goal to want to be rich is a prison sentence to being locked-in-focus regarding the wealth of others.

But the problem which all of these goals share in common is that our desire to be thin, bright, desirable, rich, etc. is primarily sought in order to impress others. Our lives revolve around the proverbial “them” and what will they think and what will they say. This brings us back to never-ending adolescence.

Because we are so intoxicated over what others will think, we also imagine that all of the “others” – those in the distance – are happy.

Ironically, we have a great debt of gratitude to Hollywood celebrities, sport stars and politicians, for we imagine their lives to be grand and glorious. But when you read their memoirs you discover that they lived horrid, hollow lives.

Elizabeth Taylor is considered one of the most glamorous actresses to have ever graced the stage. Yet she was married eight times and had many romances independent of her marriages. Kitty Dukakis was envied as the woman who was destined to be the first lady. After Michael Dukakis’s defeat by George H.W. Bush, Kitty not only succumbed to her drug and alcohol addictions but also resorted to drinking rubbing alcohol in a suicide attempt. The examples are limitless, and one wonders if an actuary has been able to compute the ephemeral lifespan of a rock star.

The vast majority of us should be overjoyed at our health and our wealth, the political and economic freedom that we enjoy, and that we have not lost a child or suffered extreme traumas. We are better off than 90% of the people in history, but instead of appreciating, we are remorseful over what we are missing – like former baseball star pitcher Dwight Gooden, who couldn’t enjoy his $6 million because his fellow star pitcher Orel Hershiser was receiving more.

The antidote to the despoiling obsession regarding others and the greatest component to achieving happiness is gratitude.

There is an inverse relationship between expectations and gratitude. The more you expect, the less grateful you will be; the less you expect, the more you will be grateful. This is why expectations are an obstacle to happiness. One who always expects to be well will not be able to grin and bear ill health, misbehaving children or unexpected traffic.

Expectations ruin gratitude.

Gratitude is acquired by concentrating on what you have – not on what you are missing. People focus on what they do not have, and what they have lost. Everyone can write a diary of his or her life that would either make the reader cry or admire what a blessed life has been lived. It is up to us to decide which diary we wish to author: the book of happiness or the book of misery.

Rabbi Hanoch Teller

Egyptian FM Visiting PA Capital Ramallah

Monday, August 26th, 2013

Egyptian foreign minister Nabil Fahmy is visiting Ramallah on Monday to discuss bilateral relations between Egypt and the Palestinian Authority with Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the Egyptian ambassador to the PA told Ma’an.

Yasser Othman said that the visit comes in support of the Palestinian return to negotiations and in gratitude for the Palestinian Authority’s position in support of the Egyptian government.

Othman added that the Egyptian people and media are aware of who supports them and who incites against them.

Diplomatic and media delegations will accompany the minister on his day long visit, the ambassador added.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/egyptian-fm-visiting-pa-capital-ramallah/2013/08/26/

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