Hakarat Hatov: Showing Gratitude

Sunday, 29 September, 2013 - 10:58 pm

Howdy !!!

Photo by Levik-90.jpgGood evening everyone, for those who don’t know me, my name is Joshua, I am the french guy with the weird accent. For those who do know me, you probably  know that I really don’t like speeches, but tonight I think like I have to say something.

I would like to talk about the Hakarat Hatov - also known as gratitude – or the necessity and ability to say thank you.

The Torah portion, Ki Savo contains the Mitzvah of bringing the First Fruits (Bikkurim) to the Bais HaMikdash (Temple in Jerusalem). The fruits are brought to the Kohen and their presentation is accompanied by a declaration expressing one's gratitude to God.

The Alshich a commentator, is bothered by a Medrash in Parshas Bereshis. The Medrash (in a play on words of the opening words of the Torah) states that the world was created for the sake of that which is called "Reishis" [first]: According to this midrash the world was created for the sake of the Mitzvah of Bikkurim, which is called "Reishis".

The Alshich asks why this Medrash states that the world was created for the sake of this mitzvah! What is the importance of this Mitsva? Why would Hashem create the world so that this Mitzvah could exist?!

The answer is that the Mitzvah of Bikkurim contains within it something that is fundamental to being a human being ­­ the obligation for people to express their gratitude and hakaras haTov. HaKaras haTov, the concept of gratitude, is so basic and primary that the whole world's creation was brought into actualization for just this mitzvah alone; this mitzvah which teaches us and trains us how to be gracious and thankful.

In fact, Jews begin their day with two words – Modeh Ani­, I thank you God for having given me the gift of life once more as I awake to the new day.

In our competitive, materialistic, society there seems to be little room for expressions of gratitude. But the Torah and all of Jewish tradition and its value system demand that we be grateful and thankful, not only in attitude but in our words and deeds as well .

Although sometimes saying ‘thank you’ seems difficult these words reflect powerful emotions and have an unbelievable impact upon the person to whom they are addressed. It is also wonderful to learn that another person is grateful and appreciative of what one has done for him or her.

A couple days ago I talked with a student who left College Station and she told me that now that she is out of College Station she misses it. It made me realize something, we have a tendency to understand that what we had was amazing only once its over.

Today we are sitting in the Sukkah, all together eating sushi for free. Every week Chabad give us the opportunity to celebrate Shabbat with free food, if we need to talk Manya and Yossi they are here for us, in fact Manya and Yossi are making our college experience a lot easier by providing to us a 'home away from home'.

So tonight i would like to say in the name of all the students thank you Manya and Rabbi Yossi for everything you guys have been doing for us.

Finally, I would like to add that sometimes action can be more meaningful than words . Every Friday night or even tonight when you come to Chabad the tables are set up, the food is already prepared, and everything looks perfect  but you need to remember that this was done by people putting in time and effort, you could contribute in your own way, by for example coming to help on Thursday night, or if you have a busy schedule just taking your plate and put it in the trash before leaving. By doing so, you will bring your own contribution to Chabad,  fulfill the Mitzva of hakarat hatov, and show your gratitude toward Chabad. Because at Chabad we are family.

Thanks and Gigem!


 *International student form Paris, France, Joshua Arrouas is a Grad Student at Texas A&M University studying for his Masters in Civil Engineering. 

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