How does your faith express thanks?
Rabbi REUVEN BULKA is head of Congregation Machzikei Hadas in Ottawa and host of Sunday night with Rabbi Bulka on 580 CFRA.
Your question is worded in an interesting way. The simple answer to “how” our faith expresses thanks is — by saying thank you. But I doubt if that is the answer you are seeking.
Perhaps you are interested in the matter of how important is the expression of thanks in our faith. Let’s try approaching your question from that perspective.
Saying thanks, expressing gratitude, showing appreciation, are critical components of the Jewish faith. Every morning, literally the first words we utter are the famous thoughts contained in the Modeh Ani statement, in which we give thanks to God for having restored our soul.
These words are taught to children as soon as they are able to speak. In other words, from their earliest years we entrench within the children the sense of gratitude for being alive.
The main daily prayer, recited three times every day, crescendos with an expression of thanks to God for life, for the daily wonders and for the ongoing kindnesses.
Whenever we benefit from food or drink, we express thanks to God both before enjoying and afterwards.
It is fair to say that the expression of thanks permeates our faith. It is everywhere, simply because everything we enjoy is cause for gratitude. And it is not just to God that we are obliged to express thanks. The pervasive thanks we extend to God is paradigmatic of the appreciation and thanks that we should extend to everyone who has done a kindness for us.
And these are many. Parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, co-workers, bank tellers, bus drivers, taxi drivers, letter carriers, etc., all do kind things. It does not matter whether they are paid or in other ways responsible to extend the service. Thank you is always in order.
This is a most profound fulfillment of the famous dictate — Love your fellow as you would love yourself. We all like to be acknowledged rather than being ignored or taken for granted. What we like for ourselves we should extend to others. The fuller our gratitude and the expression thereof, the happier will be the environment in which we live.
So, in answer to your question — How does your faith express thanks, the answer is — regularly, sincerely, happily, and enthusiastically.
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