Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

12 Shevat 5763 - January 15, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

Appreciation and Gratitude
by R. Chadshai

Human beings depend on each other for help at all times; therefore each individual has to make some effort to do things for others in return. When a family turns to the community for help in praying for the recovery of a loved one, there are those who publish heartfelt thanks for those prayers, even if the outcome was not what they had prayed for.

There are some who receive help from a gemach and when their position improves, they feel so grateful for the service that they either donate towards that particular gemach or even volunteer help.

Gratitude, or perhaps loyalty, which would be a more appropriate word, applies to educational establishments, too. Which is why they make alumni organizations.

We often don't appreciate time and effort expended by our benefactor till we are in the same position. A young woman only truly values her own mother's trials and tribulations when she herself becomes a mother. When a child brings home some original `creation,' a mother does not recognize its true value in time and energy expended by the teacher unless she, herself, has had to prepare thirty or more `works of art.'

Ingratitude stems from the mistaken idea that we are entitled to things. Why thank for something which is mine by right? Why thank teachers for teaching our children? After all, they get paid for it. Why thank the cleaning lady for cleaning the house? She gets paid enough, doesn't she? Why thank the people who run the various gemachim? Some people even imagine they are doing them a favor by patronizing the gemach. "After all, without my `support,' the gemach might close down! They really should be open 24 hours a day, these gemachim. The proprietor started it of his own free will, so he has to do the job properly! If I return a broken article, that is the gemach's concern. After all, it IS a gemach, designed to serve the public."

We have to imbue the idea into ourselves and into our children that nobody owes us anything. Whatever is done for us or on our behalf is an intrinsic kindness. Someone who lives up to this premise will be a more contented person and will wish to express gratitude for any favor done to him, whether it be large or small.

When a recipient of a favor wants to reciprocate, he has to consider whether it will really please the giver. Someone who has looked after children of an indigent family because the mother was hospitalized, will be more pleased with a sincere `thank you' than an expensive gift which she knows full well that they can't afford. Gedolim of our generation who spend hours praying for the recovery of various members of the community would feel amply repaid if the relatives would only bother to inform them that the sick person has recovered! Reward those selfless people who run numerous gemachs by telling them how much the item helped you and how much money, time and trouble you were spared.*

We are sometimes the recipients of unsolicited favors. It might be on the tip of the tongue to retort, "Who asked you to do this in the first place?" Nevertheless, we are obligated to express our thanks for the kind intentions.

A child cleaned the house for us while we were out. It took three hours to sort out the mess, but s/he genuinely meant to help! [And maybe, after proper grateful acknowledgement, a few pointers might make the next try more successful!]

Rabbi Dessler writes that the fact that we are so loathe to be under an obligation to others is often a cause for twisted thinking. A child might say that he didn't ask to be born and that his parents derive great satisfaction and pleasure from him... that he does his share of helping in the house etc. So what is there to appreciate? They should thank him!

However, Chazal taught us that even if the giver did us the favor with the intention of pleasing himself, he is entitled to appreciation.

Let us try to be a little more generous with our words of thanks, especially to parents and also to children; thus we will learn to appreciate our Creator more regularly and find the world a pleasanter place to live in.

* [Indeed, many gemachs which receive help from donors abroad would be well served if they had such first-person stories to pass on for publicity and fundraising purposes or just for moral encouragement!

A hearty thank-you is in place here for such organizations as the Ladies Relief Committee in Manchester for their tireless efforts over the past several decades in providing excellent clothing to gemachs throughout Israel! Ditto for Zichron Baila from Boro Park which sends shipments of excellent shoes and clothing for distribution. And Yad Eliezer or Kimcha d'Pischa relief organizations would certainly benefit from first-person stories of families helped. I know that I am able to pass on remarkable Hashgocha Protis stories from our clothing gemachs that are a tremendous boost at the giving end, where the volunteers don't savor the privilege and satisfaction of distribution.

And while on the subject, the YATED HOME AND FAMILY section would also appreciate a good word/letter/feedback once in a while!]


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