|Targum shel Yonoson-Ki Teitzei- Blessings of Appreciation and Appreciating our Blessings|
|Escrito por Rabbi Jonathan Ziskind|
Perhaps one of the best ways to get close to someone is through appreciation. If we appreciate what another person does for us, we will feel closer to them. By appreciating and acknowledging their qualities we begin to be drawn to them.
This is especially true in marriage. Appreciation is probably the number one trait that creates a harmonious relationship. If a husband appreciates, in detail, what his wife does for him, there is no doubt that with every passing day he will love her more and more. And she, being appreciated, will feel good and full of joy and will reciprocate in kind, leading to an enriched and glorious union.
In this week’s Parsha we find the mitzvah of taking a wife. But along with it comes another mitzvah, the obligation to make her happy as the posuk says, “ve’simach es ishto”, he shall make his wife happy. There is perhaps no better way to fill one’s spouse’s heart full of joy than by expressing appreciation.
It is good practice at the end of every day to think of a few points to appreciate about one’s spouse. He could say out aloud, “Today I appreciate that due to my wife I found a clean shirt in my cupboard this morning.” She could say, “Today I appreciate that my husband had the car fixed and filled it up with gas.” Imagine if a couple went through this daily, their relationship would be something to envy. Imagine the joy they would have in their lives. The trick is to find and concentrate on the positive and ignore the failings. Human nature finds this rather difficult to do.
A professor of positive psychology said that he and his wife do not turn out the lights at night before finding five things to be appreciative for. The first two were always the same; their spouse and their daughter. The other three were new ones every night.
The same goes with our relationship with Hashem. If we acknowledge consciously and appreciate the good things Hashem sends our way, we will feel closer to him. Perhaps this is the secret behind that which Dovid Hamelech introduced- to make one hundred brochos (blessings) throughout every day. The Rambam and others enumerate the hundred brochos we recite each day. By davening shacharis mincha and maariv (morning, afternoon and evening prayers) and eating two bread meals a day, one should tally up a hundred brochos. If we concentrate on these blessings every time we recite them they will help us appreciate the kindness of Hashem and thereby bring us closer to him.
Mendel awoke one morning with a pain in his eye. He had a lot to do that day and didn’t have time to get to the doctor. I’ll make it through the day somehow, he thought. But the pain only intensified, he couldn’t open his eye properly and his vision was slightly blurred. As evening turned into night and he got ready to retire, he found it harder to see out of his eye. All of a sudden the thought hit him, what if some infection had gotten into his eye that may blind him for life? His heart took up speed as he began to worry. He lay in bed but had an extremely restless night imagining what it was like to lose sight of an eye. Again and again he mulled over the thought; what if I go blind. What if it affects my second eye too? Will I not be able to see my children again? What about my grandchildren, will I never know what they look like. By morning he was a nervous wreck and went straight to the hospital. By late afternoon and a few eye drops later his eye was functioning (almost) pretty normally. The next morning when he said the brocha of pokei’ach ivrim (thanking Hashem for our eyesight) he didn’t quite mumble it as usual. Rather, he took the time to contemplate its meaning and feel, really feel, immense appreciation for his eyesight. It’s something to be thankful for.
The brocho of asher yotzar (recited after using the toilet, thanking Hashem that our bodies function well) we say many times throughout the day. We appreciate the fact that our bodies function well and express it in the form of a brocha. Many of us know someone on dialysis; it is an agonizing, ongoing ordeal. Here is something you can try; it takes about twenty seconds to say the brocho of asher yotzar, during those twenty seconds don’t walk around, stay in one place and recite it- it will make all the difference. If we stop and take the time to internalize what we are saying and appreciate the gifts we are given, we will increase the happiness in our lives and we will feel closer to Hashem.We are now in the month of Elul. Our sages say that the letters which spell the name Elul hint to the posuk- ani ldodi vedodi li, I am to my beloved (Hashem) and my beloved (Hashem) is to me. It is the time for us to close the gap between us and Hashem. From his side, Hashem is so close to us, he takes care of us like a mother cares for her baby. From our side we need to feel closer to him and this month is the time for that. By concentrating when reciting the blessings and appreciating what He does for us, we will feel much closer to him. A hundred blessings a day, a hundred times to express our appreciation and say- Hashem, You are the source of all our blessings.