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