The Talmud (Sanhedrin 92b) relates that at the moment Nevuchadnezzar threw Chananiah, Mishael, and Azaryah into the fiery furnace, Hashem told the prophet Yechezkel to revive the dead in the Dura Valley. When he did so, the bones came and struck Nevuchadnezzar in the face.
Nevuchadnezzar exclaimed, “What kind of bones are these?” His servants told him, “The friend of these three men that you threw into the furnace is resurrecting the dead in the Dura Valley.”
Nevuchadnezzar began to praise Hashem, and an angel came and struck him on his mouth. R’ Yitzchak said that if the malach wouldn’t have struck him, Nevuchadnezzar would have disgraced all of David HaMelech’s praises and songs in Sefer Tehillim.
Rashi explains that Nevuchadnezzar succeeded in composing praises and songs that were possibly even more eloquent than those of David HaMelech and could possibly have been more satisfying to Hashem.
R’ Shabse Yudelevich asks: Why did the angel strike Nevuchadnezzar on the mouth? He wanted to praise Hashem. We live in a world where man has free choice. Why couldn’t Nevuchadnezzar raise his voice in song?
R’ Shabse answers that the angel didn’t stop him from praising Hashem. Rather, he struck him as a test to see whether Nevuchadnezzar would continue to sing despite the blow. If he stopped, his songs clearly were not on the level of those of David HaMelech who endured numerous challenges yet continued to extol Hashem.
On Devarim 6:13, which tells us to fear Hashem, our sages use Yosef HaTzaddik as an illustration of a G-d fearing person, citing Bereishis 42:18 where Yosef says, “Es Ha’Elokikim ani yarei – I fear G-d.” But why single out Yosef? What was so special about him?
The Ksav Sofer explains: True fear of heaven means having yiras Shamayim in all situations – even when circumstances are challenging. (Hence Yosef’s use of the word “Elokim,” which corresponds to the middas hadin – the attribute of justice.) Yosef always retained his yiras Shamayim, whether he was the viceroy in Egypt, the slave of Potifar, or an inmate in prison.
An older single girl living in Bnei Brak was not having success in meeting her zivug. Whatever recommendations came her way over the years just didn’t work out. Although one should never despair, the young lady and her parents were ready to give up hope.
One day, a shadchan called and sounded unusually excited and enthusiastic. She insisted that her suggestion was sure to be a definite match. The couple met, and indeed things went well. In fact, after a while, the couple was ready to get engaged.
As the kallah and her family prepared to announce the engagement one evening, a call came in from the shadchan. She informed them that the boy’s parents had decided to call off the shidduch.
Understandably, the kallah and her parents were shocked and shaken to the core. Their disappointment was beyond words. After so many years of waiting, they had thought they were finally going to celebrate this wonderful simcha; now they also had to face the embarrassment of canceling the planned celebration.
No one slept that night. The kallah wept bitterly, and the parents sat in the dining room trying to evaluate what had gone wrong. Suddenly, however, the father sat up with a jolt. “At this point,” he exclaimed, “what we should really be doing is thanking Hashem for all the good He has given us in this world!”
He then instructed his wife to make a list, while he did the same, and they each began to itemize all the good fortune and benefits with which they had been blessed and for which they should be thankful. They sat all night, and in the wee hours of the early morning, they finally completed their list.
Exhausted, they went to lie down for a few hours before the sun rose. It was still early in the morning when the phone rang with a frantic shadchan on the other end. “There has been a frightful misunderstanding. It was all a terrible mistake!” she exclaimed. “The family is asking if you would be willing to reschedule the vort for the following night.”
They agreed to go ahead with the shidduch, and the chuppah took place at the proper time.
The parents always attributed this favorable outcome to the special efforts they extended to enhance their hakaras hatov and express their appreciation to Hashem in a very tangible way.
Perhaps the greatest segulah in life is to say thank you to Hashem.