Parshas Bo

Rabbi Gidon Goldberg's picture

Dear Parents,

As the dean of PHDS/NEAT, my fellow administrators and I are touched by many people on a daily basis. At times we may fail to show appropriate hakaras hatov or forget to amply thank the many people who do so much for our school. We should constantly express our appreciation to the various committees that so many of you participate in. This past week’s parshah illustrates the need to express hakaras hatov.

Moshe Rabbeinu did not strike the water to bring forth blood because the water had saved him when he was a baby. Similarly, he did not strike the ground to bring forth lice during the plague of kinim because the dirt protected him when he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand (Rashi, Shemos 8:12).

Although dirt and water have no feelings or bechirah, Moshe showed appreciation for the benefits he received from them. This is because hakaras hatov is not about the benefactor, but about the recipient.

In a recent essay on this topic, Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz is quoted as saying, “People who are makir tov appreciate the daily goodness they experience. They appreciate everyone who has helped them get to where they are. They don’t ignore the ‘little’ people who enhance their lives in ways big and small. If you don’t do the small things right, you won’t do the big things right either. If you don’t appreciate the small things, you won’t appreciate the big things either. Grateful people notice and appreciate all things from which they benefit.

“In today’s generation, items are not made to last and this lack of hakaras hatov allows us to fall into the trap of looking at life from the prism of, ‘What’s in it for me?’ The foundation of being a mentch is to always remember what a person did for you when you needed him. Never forget it or stop feeling your debt of gratitude.”

As Rabbi Lipschutz prepared to move from Monsey, the city where he lived his entire life, he wrote a unique, lengthy thank you letter to the city. He highlighted his father’s arrival to Monsey in 1952 to learn in Bais Medrash Elyon and later its kollel. This yeshivah produced exemplary talmidim and led to the development of a Torah town. Rabbi Lipschutz said he was like a toddler taking baby steps in the shadow of towering giants. He spoke of the pastoral, peaceful town and of the fine people who founded and sustained this wonderful place to bask in the ruach of Torah.

Rabbi Lipschutz further wrote: “The roshei Yeshiva, rabbanim, mechanchim, and moros who taught me and my children, and all the children here, marking Monsey’s young with greatness and wholesomeness, enabling them to grow and succeed, and the baalei chessed, shopkeepers, professionals, doctors, lawyers, and accountants here are special, as are the butchers, electricians, plumbers, bakers, and fix-it men.”

We live in a world of selfies and narcissistic behaviors that diminish effective relationships. As a Torah institution, our goal is to constantly fight such behavior. Last week I wrote of the many local simchos being celebrated, and this week I want to focus on a different aspect of these simchos. Our community is known for its tremendous chessed and kindness to each other. One of the families making a simchah mentioned that as they planned their simchah, they were floored by the many requests from local families to help with housing, sheva brachos, or any other way of making their simchah easier to plan and prepare. Often when planning these events, so many of our children and students are there to pitch in and help as well.

It is this outpouring of support and chessed that is sure to have a profound effect on each and every one of us. Chessed is much more than just giving. When we express hakaras hatov or repay a kindness, this often has more of an impact on us than it does on the recipient. On behalf of the administration, I would like to express our hakaras hatov to our entire parent body, staff, and students for all that they do to enhance the school on a daily basis. We look forward to celebrating many happy occasions together.

Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Peretz Scheinerman