14 Shvat 5779 / Sunday, January 20, 2019 | Torah Reading: Yitro
 
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Real Gratitude    

Real Gratitude



Thanks to our matriarch Leah, we don't have to wait till we see how things turn out for the best. We know that we should thank Hashem for everything up front…

 



In the Garden of Gratitude, Rav Shalom Arush cites the Zohar that says that from the time of creation no one offered gratitude to Hashem until Leah. This seems perplexing, for certainly our forefathers offered thanks to God for everything He did for them. What's so unique about Leah's gratitude?

 

Mayaana Shel Torah says the Hebrew word for thanks Hodaah has two connotations. One is gratitude and the other implies admission.

 

A deep and profound form of gratitude is when one admits that what initially appeared as something detrimental was in reality a great favor. Initially Leah considered it a terrible personal tragedy that Jacob loved her less than Rachel. Ultimately, she came to realize that it was because of this that Hashem granted her the lion's share of the tribes. She therefore stated this time let me gratefully admit that it was all really for my benefit and therefore, praise Hashem. In this type of thanksgiving, Leah was the pioneer.

 

Thanks to our mother Leah, we don't have to wait till we see how things turn out for the best. We know that we should thank Hashem for everything up front.

 

In Rabbi Arush’s books and CD’s he relates countless true stories of individuals who received miraculous salvations by saying thank you to Hashem. In Garden of Miracles, Rav Arush explains why sometimes people thank Hashem and yet don't see the salvation.

 

Sometimes this may be because a person expresses gratitude as simply another ploy and not because he really means it. Even if you say thank you a thousand times until you believe that everything is for the best but are insincere in your thanks, you are not ready to receive the salvation. This will mitigate stern judgment somewhat because after all the entire person is saying thank you instead of complaining. But the person won't receive the big rescue unless he reinforces his emuna that everything is from Hashem and for the best.

 

True gratitude is not just when the sun is shining. It's when there are dark clouds overhead as well. No one is required to know that everything is for the best, only Hashem knows that. Yet, we are required to believe it's all for the best.

 

The type of gratitude that comes from the lips of a person, whose heart still harbors complaints, will never be effective in solving anything. One must truly believe that Hashem is doing everything for the best in order to express gratitude with sincerity. Such expressions of gratitude bring salvations.

 

Rav Arush writes that strengthening our emuna that everything is for the best must therefore precede expressions of gratitude. Don't say thank you without thinking. Don't turn gratitude into a rabbit's foot or some other good luck charm. Believe that everything is from Hashem and for the best and then say thank you. It's not a ploy or charm. Gratitude is the way to get close to Hashem. If that's a person's intention he'll see every salvation.

 

The code of Jewish law Orach Chaim 230:5 requires each of us to believe that everything Hashem does is for the very best. Just as every Jew is given the obligation to eat kosher food and observe Shabbos, He doesn't make demands that we can't fulfill.

 

You may be thinking “easier said than done.”  True, but the more you say it the easier it is to do. Better yet don't just say it, pray it.

 

Admit to Hashem: “I'm saying this because I think it’s true in my mind but I don't yet feel it in my heart. Please help me to believe in You with all my heart and to feel close to You. Please help me believe everything is from You and for the best.” When you pray like this, Hashem will lead you in the way you want to go.

 

Additionally, we should make it a priority to read books and articles on emuna and gratitude. Identify lessons or aphorisms that uplift and inspire you. Write these down and keep them handy in a journal. Prior to your expressions of gratitude, you can recite these teachings and request help from Hashem to internalize these principles. Beg Him to bring these from your head down to your heart so you truly believe that there is No One but Him. Ask Him to help you believe everything that happens to you is sent by Him with love and for the very best.

 

Praying up front will give special strength and grace to your expressions of gratitude.  They will appear like precious gems in the eyes of Hashem. They will not be thinly disguised ploys to get rid of unwanted problems, but rather sincere expressions of faith and thanksgiving that evoke Divine compassion

 

Through study and prayer, may we develop rock solid emuna in Hashem’s omnipotence and compassion. May this emuna animate our expressions of gratitude and may our beloved Father and King send us the salvations we so urgently need.





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