Bereishis Parsha Lesson- Appreciation
For Year 2 of Parsha Lesson, I will be focusing on one practical middah, character
trait, to think about in the week ahead and steps we can take to attain it.
Bereishis starts off with telling us about the creation of the world. After the seven days of creation, the Torah tells us that 'the vegetation of the land had not yet sprouted forth, because Hashem did not bring rain on the land and there was no man to work the land.'
Rashi explains that even though all vegetation was created on the 3rd day of creation, it did not sprout forth from the 'mouth of the Earth' because Hashem did not send rain.
Why did Hashem not send rain? Because Adam was not yet created to 'work' the land and there was no one to recognize the goodness of rain.
As we all know, Adam started off in Gan Eden! The plan was for him to remain there and not have to work at all! Adam and Chava and all of humanity were destined to sit back and enjoy life in Gan Eden and never have to work.
So what does the Torah mean when it says that Man was not yet there to work the land? Man was NOT SUPPOSED to work the land!?
R' Avigdor Miller explains that Man's mission on this world is to recognize the goodness and kindness of Hashem. This is the 'work' expected of man: to use his daas- knowledge and reasoning- to appreciate Hashem and to then use his mouth to praise Hashem for the goodness that he recognizes.
As we see from Hashem only providing rain when and if Adam would appreciate it, appreciating the good that Hashem does for us is a pre-requisite for Hashem to bless us. The more that we can appreciate the good that Hashem does- the more blessing Hashem will shower on us. The more perceptive we are in our understanding of Hashem's chesed, enables Hashem to do chesed with us.
More profoundly, being that man's fundamental mission in this world, is for Man to appreciate and recognize the good Hashem does with him, it therefore goes to reason that this must be an important aspect of one's self-development. Conversely, not recognizing the good one has received or denying the requisite recognition for the the good one has received is the root of a rotten person.
Appreciation, otherwise known as Hakaras Hatov, recognition of good, is a central part of man's development and crucial to properly developing as a fine person. Merely paying lip service- saying thank you- is not appreciating and recognizing goodness and kindness. The goal is to develop into an authentically GOOD person, not to merely be proper and socially respectable.
The first step is to notice and appreciate the goodness that we receive from the PEOPLE around us. If we can't appreciate the kindness that we see that is more obvious, we will not be able to appreciate Hashem's kindness which is less obvious.
If we can really appreciate the good we receive- starting with one instance and then growing from there- we will develop into people who have the character trait of 'Appreciation.' As a person incorporates this character trait into his personality it will become easier for him to exercise his Appreciation and to also appreciate more subtle and profound kindness.
How significant is this? Pretty significant. Significant enough for Hashem to create the whole world and all that is in it.
Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos!
Rabbi Eli Meir Kramer