|iAwaken-Beshalach-Law of Attraction|
|Written by Harav David Lapin|
Life events are often sandwiched between two spiritual experiences: prayer and praise. We pray for our aspirations and we praise Him when they are fulfilled; we pray before a challenge
and celebrate our success with gratitude. From a linear perspective, prayer for the future precedes praise for the past; first we request, then we thank. However, like prayer, praise and appreciation is a mighty spiritual force that can impact success. How, you may ask, can something that we do after the completion of an event, affect that event's success?
The answer is that the way we respond to an event, the way we praise and give thanks, is a function of each of our personalities and values. The kernel of our thanksgiving exists in our hearts long before the actual time for thanksgiving arrives. Consider your own children, for example, or friends, how some react to small favors with vivacious appreciation, while others may do little more than nod their appreciation or mumble a resentful thank-you! You often know before you do a favor for another person, what kind of response you are likely to get. This is because the way each of us responds to the kindness of another is a function of who we are as individuals.
Think about it further: You probably find it easier to put yourself out and go that extra mile for people who are generous with their appreciation than you would be for those who are not. G-d and the universe He created operate the same way. If you are generous with the way you show appreciation, Hashem is generous with His gifts for you. People and the world give more of themselves to appreciative people than they do to those who are not. Appreciation is much more than a response to the generosity of others. Appreciation drives generosity. The energy of your appreciation powers and attracts the generosity of others.
This is why we begin each shemoneh esrei (the eighteen-blessing prayer we say three times a day,) with praise, giving thanks before we pray for success. In our Shacharis prayers we give thanks for the Creation and for our freedom even before we start requesting anything. In Mincha we start with Ashrei, an expression of powerful, poetic praise and appreciation. In Ma'ariv, as in Shacharis, we praise G-d for the Creation of nature and freedom before we say our shemoneh esrei. This is because the way we express gratitude for things past impacts the power and effectiveness of our prayers for the future.
This idea of gratitude powering prayer and success explains G-d's strange comment to Moshe in his moment of crisis. The people of Israel have faithfully followed Moshe at G-d's command. They left the familiarity of Egypt for the unknowns of the desert. They arrive at the shores of the Red Sea trapped by the swiftly advancing Egyptian army. There appears to be no possibility of survival. Moshe prays. Hashem responds critically: "This is no time to shout your prayers at me," He says. (Shemos 14:15) The Midrash (Shemos Rabbah 21:8) fills in the spaces in G-d's communication and says:
I turned ocean into dry land for Adam who was a single individual. How much more so will I do this for an entire community of people who are going to praise me with the words: "This is my G-d and I will glorify Him."
We see here how Hashem requires less prayer when He knows the majesty of praise and gratitude that will follow the kindness He plans to do. Gratitude powers prayer; it magnifies and amplifies it. When you are about to begin an important task or face a difficult challenge, in addition to praying for success and visualizing what that success will feel like, go a step further: Visualize yourself celebrating and giving thanks for your success, because the way you do this will amplify your prayer and power your success.
This idea of gratitude initiating generosity applies in interpersonal relationships too. When you are secure in the gratitude that a person will show, you respond to their needs before they even express them. You know they will not take you for granted. You know that appreciative people will not exploit your generosity and so you give them more. Doing things for people who show generous appreciation is not a chore; it is a joy.
Don't wait until someone does something for you to show him or her your appreciation. Rather seek things they have done for you in the past and demonstrate your gratitude in meaningful, enthusiastic, vibrant and tangible ways. Doing this makes others want to do more for you, and they will. The same applies in leading and managing people. Showing people gratitude does not make you appear weak. Showing appreciation grows your stature and attracts the generosity of the people who work for you. An entire section in Lead By Greatness is dedicated to showing readers how leaders have built vast economic value by using this principle of the Midrash in Parshas Beshalach.
Try it now: choose someone who has done something for you, and show your gratitude in a new and sincere way. Do this consistently each day to the people around you and watch for their responses. Showing your gratitude to others is the initiator - their generosity to you will be the outcome.
Shiurim for Parshat Beshalach are online under Weekly Parsha, or by clicking here: www.iawaken.org/shiurim/list.asp?subcat=452
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