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Gratitude - 10/02/2007

We have no right to ask when a sorrow comes, "Why did this happen to me?" unless we ask the same question for every joy that comes our way. ~ Shlomo Ressler
Cultivate the gratitude attitude. ~ Popular wisdom

Simchat Torah is the holiday the Jewish people express their gratitude for the giving of the Torah by Hashem.

We have had a few nights when there have only been a few people at dancing. My mother said to me that I must be disappointed. Not at all. I enjoy it, even when I am there by myself. I have spent countless hours by myself shooting baskets and hitting balls against walls, and many more hours playing one-on-one. I approach dancing the same way. If I am by myself, I use the room to practice dancing and do things I would never let anyone else see. It's fun. If there are only a few other people, we have a great time doing whatever we want. It is a nice opportunity to get to know people better. I am thankful that I have the time, health and chance to do these things.

Today I was listening to a book on tape that mentioned the same theme of gratitude. It was a true story about a man surviving on a life raft in the ocean for 70 days. He said the deprivation made him appreciate things he took for granted, such as companionship, health, shelter and food. Back at home, like many people, he had been worried about things he did not have, missed opportunities and disappointments, which he now knew were not important.

The following is from Sholom Ressler's Weekly Dvar Torah. Hope you enjoy.

Adam said, "The woman that You gave to be with me - she gave me of the tree and I ate." (Breishis 3:12). Rashi explains that this is evidence of a lack of gratitude, which is why Adam was banished from the Garden, to work the soil from which he was taken (Breishis 3:23). Why was expulsion his just punishment?

A wealthy family raised an orphan in their home from infancy. His treatment and style of living was absolutely equal to the other siblings. One day a poor man came to the door of this wealthy man. A deep chord of sympathy was struck within the wealthy man, so he gave to him one hundred gold coins. The man started to praise his benefactor with every benevolent phrase. The wife turned to her husband and remarked on what a stunning display of gratitude they had just witnessed. She then addressed the phenomena that this fellow with a single donation could not stop saying thanks and is probably still singing praises as he sits in his home. In contrast, the orphan, who has been the beneficiary of kindliness worth much more, has never once offered even a hint of thankfulness.

The husband called over the orphan boy and pointed him to the door. He held his head low and left. The days to follow were a bitter example of how brutal life can be "out there". Without food and shelter he was forced to take the lowest job. For weeks he struggled and suffered just barely subsisting, and all the while looking longingly back at the blessed and dainty life he left behind. At a calculated time the wealthy man sent for the boy to be returned to his former status within the family. However, now having gone through what he had, he thanked his host constantly for every bit of goodness with the joy of genuine appreciation.

As a nation and as individuals we have all witnessed this pattern and experienced it too many times. The key to holding a blessing is appreciation. Without that attitude of gratitude the weight of the goodness that surrounds a man pushes him into exile till he is ready to gratefully surrender. This is only the most fundamental and the oldest lesson in history.

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