Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Appreciating What We Have Even More

I was thinking about the Tosofos I learned yesterday with the Stropkover Rebbi. (Even a verbrenta misnagid like me can't help but mull over an event like that!)  Tosofos explains that the "v'chesronan" (their deficiencies) in borei nefashos refers to those things without which it would be impossible to live, such as bread and water.  Interestingly enough, however, one would never say "borei nefashos" on bread!  Why would Chazal have us first refer to a food that is not relevant to this bracha?

I would like propose that before thanking HaShem for delicacies, such as apples, we need to appreciate that the world did not have to be that way.  HaShem could have created only those things required for life, such as bread and water.  If there were nothing to eat except apples, we would appreciate them.  However, when we first acknowledge that there are other things to eat that would satisfy our need for nutrition and apples are (so to speak) extra credit, we have an intensified appreciation for them.

Rav Dessler points out a similar idea about t'shuva and olam haba.  Part of the t'shuva process is "charata" -- a feeling of regret and embarrassment.  (The ba'al tshuva feels charata over what he did, the tzadik feels charata about what he almost did.)  Rav Dessler wonders what relevance such feelings have to olam haba.  He answers that those feelings intensify our appreciation of the Creator's chesed -- that He brought us close from such a low state -- and therefore increases our pleasure in olam haba.

Newton is not the only physicist to have learned a lot from an apple.

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: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…