Feb 23, 2009

Blessing of Thanksgiving

February 22, 2009
Mrs. Raize Guttman
We are going to be speaking about thanking Hashem! Which is something that we all I’m sure we’re all very interested in and we should be doing most of the time. The last part of the shmoneh esrei is actually catered to this specific need and this specific object of thanksgiving. This is the place that we attempt to express our hakaras hatov [appreciation] to Hashem for all of the millions of kindnesses that he does for us every second.
This is also in place of the korban todah [sacrifice of thanksgiving] that was given in the holy temple. If you remember last week, we spoke about the service in the Holy Temple which constitueted all the sacrifices. This blessing is the continuation of that in the sense that in the holy temple, part of the service was the sacrifice of the korban todah. When we say this blessing [at least until moshiach comes] this is in place of that sacrifice.
The question is what is appreciation? What is hakaras hatov? I think the answer to that question is in the word hakaras hatov – it literally means recognition, to be conscious of the good. The first step of trying to achieve some sense of appreciation of g-d is to recognize the good. its not enough to have good, many people have lots of good but they don’t recognize it. Therefore they’re not happy and theyre not grateful for it.

The second way is to appreciation is to recognize that all Good is really G-d!!
Good is two “O”s and G-d is one “O”. Hashem is the true source of al; good
When we use the expression recognition of the good, what it really means Hatov, the one and only source of goodness! So hakaras hatov really can be translated as recognition of G-d.
The more one brings God, and awareness of G-d into his life the happier he will be
And this is the first thing we say in this blessing.
If you look into the blessing “we thank you” Why? What’s the first thing we’re going to thank Hashem for? We go through a whole long list of things we’re going to thank Him for. The first thing we thank Him for is “That you are Hashem our G-d”! That is the very first thing to thank Hashem for, the fact that G-d is our G-d. that we have this G-d and we have relationship with him and we have this connection to Him, and there’s no greater good than that. That’s hakaras Hatov Recognition of Good or recognition of G-d. Recognition of G-dliness which is really the same thing.

The essence of every Jew is hakaras hatov, is thankfulness, is appreciation. What’s the first words you say when you wake up in the morning? You open up your eyes and the first thing you say is “Modeh Ani”. Modeh is the same word that we are using here in this blessing. I thank you Hashem. In essence, grammatically speaking we should really be saying “Ani Modeh” “I thank You Hashem.” And yet we don’t say that, we say “Modeh Ani” Rav Shimshon Pinkus tells us why, the first thing you should say when you wake up in the morning should not be “I”.

The first thing you should say is “I thank You Hashem!”

This is how we begin our day, this is how we begin life is with thankfullness. The name of the Jew is Yehudi. We’re all called Yehudim. What does this mean? Yehuda comes from the name that Leah gave her fourth son. The first son she called Reuven, the second son she called Shimon and the third she called levi and the fourth son she called Yehuda.
Why? It says “Hapaam odeh es Hashem,” I am so overcome with thankfulness, I’m overcome with gratefulness! I have four sons already, who ever dreamed that i would have four sons? Based on the name Yehuda – which means to thank, we are called Yehudim. We’re not called Reuvenim or Shimonim… some of us are called Leviim, but all of us are called Yehudim. That means a Jew. Why? Why is the name of a Jew Yehudi? Because that’s the essence of a Jew! What does it mean to be a Jew? A jew means someone who wakes up and says modeh ani, he is connected with Hashem, he is filled with hakaras hatov.

How important is it to have hakaras hatov??
I once learnted that the more hakaras hatov a person has in this world to that extent will a person be able to enjoy his place in the afterlife forever and ever and all of eternity. Meaning, the amunt of hakaras hatov, appreciation and the amount of g-dliness a prsn finds and looks for and sees in his life here, that’s how much a person is going to enjoy g-dliness in the next world.

My principal In high school [Rabbi Kramer] once taught us this. He said imagine the next world as a big ampithetar like Madison square garden and everyone sits all around and theshow is in the middle of the field. Lets say olam haba is that big ampitheater. Everyone has a portion in the world to come so Everyone has a different seat.Some people have box seets, those are The really righteous people, they get the box seats. Then all along people have portions and seats and The people in the back in the bleachers all the way up they need binoculars to watch the show. Those are the least of the righteous people. What is the show that we’re all going to be watching in the next world? That is the schnina, that is G-ds presence. We are all going to be sitting around in the next world enjoying the radiance of the schnina.
This is what the Mesilas Yehsarim, the Path of the Just [the book that I told you about last week] is how he starts off his first chapter he talks about
The concept of the next world is enjoying the radiance of the schina. Wow it sounds beautiful! We’re all going to be sitting in our allotted portion, enjoying the radiance of the shchina forever and ever and all of eternity. It sounds nice it sunds loveley, but it sounds a bit boring after a while, no? I mean, how long can you sit and watch the same show?? The answer is depending on how much you appreciate the show that’s how boring or not boring or exciting it will be for you.
ForA person who spends his entire life seeking out G-dliness, Hashem “hakaras HaTov” , recognizing the good in his ife and recognizing Hashem in his life,
Everywhere he goes he is searching for Hashem

My grandmother used to love going shopping in the shuk. After we had a couple of bombings and all kind of nebach tragedies in the shuk here in Israel, I used to tell her “Bubby please do me a favor, don’t go to the shuk! I’ll get you the vegetables in my neighborhood and I’ll bring them over to you, so I’ll pay a few shekels more, I don’t care. But do me a favor, I’m scared, don’t go to the shuk. I don’t want you walking around the shuk.” And she used to tell me:
“Raizy, I have to go to the shuk! When I go to the shuk I see ahsem! Everywhere I turn I see Hashem. I see so many different types of people, beautiful oranges and beautiful apples and so many different types of fruits and vegetables. Everywhere I go all I see is Hashem.” I said “You know what Bubby? If all you see in the shuk is Hashem, then go to the shuk!”
I always think of my grandmother, no matter where you are no matter what you’re doing always look for the good. Always look for G-d. It’s the same thing, G-d is the source of all goodness.
HWne a person tries to find meaning and purpose in his own life and everything that happens to him, such a person will come up after 120 years and all of a sudden will look at the show, he’ll look at the show and say Wow! This is what I’ve been seeking for my whole life! This is what I have been after, and here it is! It will be the most beautiful fascinating, interesting, enjoyable show for ever. His soul will never get enough of that which is soul was seeking his whole life.
For a person who spent nhis life in this world running after trivialities and all kinds of silliness, that really did not connect him to G-d in anyway, he didn’t look to see the beauty in the world and the beauty in his life. He’ll come up and see the schina and wont mean anything to him he wont have any connection to it. Such a person, to sit in his portion forever and ever and all of eternity that will be gehennom!
The next world really is hell and heaven in the same place. For some people it will be hell and for some it will be heaven depending on how much appreciation and awareness of the good he ran after and saught his entire life.
Appreciate G-d, seeing the good and that’s why we are called yehudim and that’s why we say modeh ani when we wake up.

Theres a beautiful commentary on these words by the Toras Chaim, he says such a beautiful thing that I’m going to read it inside

“It seems that we must interpret, since G-d blessed is He, does kindness with every man, every day and every time and every minute. However the person who is experiencing all of these miracles doesn’t realize all of the miracles going on around him. He assumes that the world runs on its natural course, and he doesn’t feel that every step that he takes and every move that he makes, and every breath that he breathes it is all directly from G-d. and it would be appropriate that a person should thank and he should bless every minute, constantly, for every step for every movement and every breath a person should constantly be saying thank you. Any person who does not recognize every minute that everything is from G-d but just assumes that of course I’m able to move my hand! This person is as if he is someone who doesn’t believe, he is like a heretic. Since it is impossible that a person should stand from the morning until the night and he should give constant praise and thanks for every step and every movement and since anyways most of the world is running after silliness and nonsense and not involved in these lofty thoughts; Everyone is running after money. Therefore the men of the great assembly, since we really should be thanking Hashem every minute, the men wrote down this prayer so that every morning, afternoon and evening we should be thanking Hashem so that a person can encompass in this one blessing, all of the breaths that he breathes and all of the constant kindness and wonders he can fulfill his obligation of thanking Hashem all day long by saying modem and having in mind that I really wish I could thank you all day long. Hashem I am thanking you now Tati thank you for all the chesed and kindness you do for me. Therefore we say these words “Modim anachnu lach”

This is exactly what the blessing is talking about

“We thank you Hashem that you are our G-d and the go-d of our fathers, you are our rock, you are the rock of our lives” It’s a sign of strength. We can always rely on Hashem. He is strong and reliable.
“The shield of our salvation” Any salvation any type of yeshua, it all comes from Hashem.
“It is You Hashem for every generation therefore we thank you, we will relate your praise” For our lives that are committed into your hands. I’m a nothing and anybody if not for you. For the miracles that happen to us every single day. For the wonders, for the favors that you do for us that are there for us at all times. The difference between your miracles and “your wonders” miracles are the changes in nature.
Then there are the wonders like breathing and rain. That really are truly miraculous but
There’s no difference between nature and miracles except that nature happens frequently but miracles happen infrequently.
Its equally as miraculous as splitting the sea! We view one as a miracle as absolutely amazing and earth shattering. Equally so we thank G-d for the wonders for the things he does for us all the time. The favors that you do all the time, in the evening, morning and afternoon” this is the same thing that we said before. In this blessing of modiim. The men do when they daven three times a day. And we end off by “You are the good” when we say hakaras haTov, this is what we’re talking about. Why is he good? Because Your compassion never ends. You are merciful because your kindness never ends. For always we hope to you. Meaning that the only one that we can trust and look to for any type of help or mercy is to You. It’s interesting because here we see that G-ds goodness is based on his mercy. We are saying that everything tat G-d does is good. Only G-d can have true ercy on someone because only G-d knows what is truly good for us

When it comes to us, we can have mercy on someone only as much as we can see. We try to alleviate that suffering but we don’t really know why they are suffering maybe this suffering is really good for them! But G-d and his mercy are intertwined. His goodness comes from his mercy

G-ds Mercy is found in his name “Yud Key Vuv Key” Every name is a manifestation of a different attribute of G-d. Whenever we have the name “Ado ---“ Whenever we see that name written out, its G-ds mercy.
Yud and Hey, and Vuv and Hey stand for past present and future. G-d is all merciful past present and future. The connection is that the only reason that G_d is all merciful and completely compassionate is because G-d sees the whole picture. We have a limited understanding and we don’t have a full understanding of what G-d

How they were affected in the past or who they’ll be effected in the future. We make judgments based on the picture we see right now. The definition of Good is not what we like or makes us feel comfortable. Anything that brings us closer to G-d is good. He is merciful because he sees the whole picture. He knows what happen before and he knows what the ramifications are. He sees how you’re playing your role.

They’re not! They are all coming from G-ds mercy. Being able to see the whole picture. His goodness is pure because He knows exactly what we need.

1. Be Makir – open his eyes and focus on all the wonderful and beautiful things he has in his life. That’s the first step, open up your eyes and look and see and

Trace all this goodness back to its source, finding G-d and recognizing him in every aspect.
Remember that recognizing the good doesn’t mean if it feels good then its good and everything that Hashem does is for our good. This is a way that we can truly feel appreciation to G-d always. We don’t have to wait for everything in life to be perfect. Everyone has their tests and their difficulties. And probably those tests and difficulties are where we’re going to grow the most.
In order to achieve great levels in the world to come
G_D knows all of that. For this we have to appreciate G_d and feel hakaras hatov. And recognize G_d in every aspect of life

The second part of this blessing we say for all the kindnesses “May Your name be blessed, our King always and forever” For all of these G-d, we exalt you and bless your name forever.
“All of the life will thank you forever” What we’re talking about is the entire world. Animals and every aspect of nature that every aspect of the entire universe sings its own special thanks to G-d.
Perek Shirah, what it is is the entire universe, the sun the moon the ocean, every aspect of the world has its own special verse, from psalms every one has its own special prayer of praise and thanks to G-d. The entire world is so indebted to you for all the good that you do. Every aspect of the world, naturally thanks G-d. That’s what they do, they don’t have free choice. Man is only the being in the entire world that has the free choice. Out of our own free will and that raises us up over every aspect of life including the angels! They sing praise because that’s what they were created to do. When a person chooses and really thanks G_d for whatever situation it is, whatever it is, to say “G-d I am totally connected to you! You love me, you are filled with mercy and filled with goodness, and is perfectly suited for my needs. All of life praises you G-d but man

The word Chaim stands for 4 different types of people who have an extra measure of gratefulness of G-d. People who say birchas hagomel, which people do after 4 different situations. Anyone who has experienced chaim will especially thank you.

Ches= choleh, someone who was ill and was healed.
Yud= yam, someone who travels over the oceans and arrives at their destination safely
Yud= yissurim, anyone who was locked up in jail and got out of jail, has an extra measure of thankfulness to G-d.
Mem= midbar, someone who travels through the desert. Years ago that’s how people traveled.

They will praise your name in truth. G-d who is our salvation and our help, forever.
The question on these words is why do we first say thank you to Hashem for being or salvation and then for being our hope?
Don’t stop praying and realizing that im in a desperate need ofG-ds help and not to take things for granted. Therefore we say after we experience a salvation where we feel g-ds kindness in a tremendous way, don’t stop thanking Hashem and thanking him constantly for all the regular things you thank him for. Don’t just live from one big thing to another big thing. I’ll give you a story
When I was in high school, we had a teacher her name was Mrs. Press. She’s now the principal, she received a whole bunch of phone calls within 6 months she received all of the se different phone calls.
She gets a phone call from a girl “Everything’s fine, but I’m having such anxiety because everyone is getting their seminary acceptances. Once I know where I’m going and have it all straightened out ill really be able to enjoy life. I can’t think straight”
another phone call from a girl who came home from pesach “I love seminary and love Israel, but I don’t know, I cant really fully enjoy myself because I’m so worried about what’s going to be next year. I’m just so nervous that I find myself so anxious. Once things fall into place I’ll be happy.”
Another one, from a girl a year out of seminary “Everything’s fine, I started dating and the whole shidduch scene is driving me bananas, I’m so worried I cant eat and cant sleep. I see girls who are much older than me who are not married”
A girl who was engaged, “Such a wonderful chosson, everything’s great but the engagement period is such a crazy time. It’s so uncomfortable, once I get married things will fall into place. I’m so nervous and worried I cant really enjoy myself
A girl who was married a year “So nervous, I’m not pregnant, once I’m pregnant and everything’s ok, I find myself not being able to enjoy myself. Once I am pregnant I know for sure that I’ll be happy!”
And you could already imagine, the next girl is pregnant and she’s all worried until she gives birth, then as the child grows up.
Issues in life don’t disappear; at every stage in life there are other hurdles to deal with. Not to have hakaras hatov now is a sin!!
“Yesterday was the past, tomorrow is the future, today is a gift and that’s why its called the present.”
Its up to us to truly acknowledge that present and not to always be worried and nervous. These things take us away from bonding with our creator.
We end of this beautiful blessing with “Blessed are you G-d, whose name is good and to whom it is fitting to praise”
The lechem ra’av says the first letters of these words spell out: Hey Shin, a Vuv a Nun and a Lamed. All of those leters to gether spell out “Halashon” The tongue. The whole purpose of a tongue is to thank Hashem.

Which is the greatest thing that we all have to be thankful for.

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