Skip to main content
Hakaras haTov -- How far?

Another interesting ha'ara from the Sifsei Chaim, Midos v'Avodas haShem. After the burning bush incident, where Moshe Rabbeinu was told in a direct navu'a from haShem to go to Mitzrayim to bring out Klal Yisrael (and all the back and forth there), we have pasuk 4:18: Moshe left and returned to Yeser his father-in-law, etc. Rashi brings the M'chilta on that verse that says that Moshe was asking to leave because he had promised his father-in-law not leave Midian without permission. The medrash explains that Moshe had made the promise because of his hakaras hatov to Yisro.

Now wait a minute... the entire klal yisrael is languishing in Mitzrayim, it is time for them to be redeemed, and Moshe is the chosen redeemer. Yet Moshe Rabbeinu needs his father-in-law's permission? And just what was the chesed that Yisro had done for Moshe? Yisro had invited Moshe in for a meal. And why did Yisro invite Moshe in for a meal? Because Moshe had just saved his daughters and watered his flocks. Also, since Yisro had been excommunicated since swearing off avoda zara, he was having trouble finding a shiduch for his daughters and Moshe seemed a likely candidate. So the chesed was relatively small and Yisro (besides his ulterior motives of looking for a shiduch) was really repaying a debt of gratitude to Moshe Rabeinu anyway.

I think there are at least two very practical and implementable lessons to take from here. First is that my obligation for hakaras hatov is not in any way diminished simply because the other person has ulterior motives. So what? That is their business; from my perspective I received a chesed and I need to acknowledge that. A thank you (with a seiver panim yafos, of course) is inexpensive and always appreciated. Thank your ba'al t'fila for leading the services, your friend for bringing you a cup of coffee, your husband/wife for being your husband/wife.

Second, there is One who acts with no ulterior motives, wants nothing but your happiness and well-being, and provides for your ever minute of the day and every breath of your life. So when you make a bracha, take a few seconds to do it justice. Look at the food, for example, and appreciate the color, warmth, smell, feel, etc. Take just a moment to appreciate the complex system that supports growing it, transporting it, storing it, making it affordable, etc. Remember that HaShem made the entire creation so you could appreciate and enjoy being; and this is part of it. And then say the bracha word by word as if you really mean it. Thank G-d.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…