Elul 20, 5779
September 20, 2019
Judaism teaches that the first words we are to say when we arise each morning are
Modah Ani l’fanecha
– how grateful I am before You [God]! Before we are even fully awake we are to thank God for the fact that we are able to open our eyes again to a new day. We thank God before we know what kind of day awaits because it does not matter. Every breath and every moment, regardless of how wonderful or challenging, are something for which we should give thanks.
From our Sources
Ben Zoma used to say: A good guest says, “How much my hostess toiled for me! She put so much meat in front of me, so much wine, so much bread – all this exertion just for me!” A bad guest says, “What did my hostess toil for me? I ate just one roll, just one piece of meat, I drank just one cup of wine – all this exertion was for her own household.”
Babylonian Talmud, B’rachot
Many good things are left unenjoyed, and the happiness to be had from them becomes tainted either because people do not recognize the good in it, or they do not realize its value.
-Bachya ibn Pakuda,
Duties of the Heart
Gratitude is a virtue that you don't learn from books, and which, if lacking, may be considered a sickness of the soul.
-Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
Has more of your time this past year been spent like Ben Zoma’s good guest or his bad guest?
How often do you stop to give thanks for the life you have and the world that you inhabit? What good things have gone unenjoyed this year?
If gratitude is not something that can be learned in books, from where do we learn to be grateful? And how do we establish habits that cultivate the quality of gratitude within us?