Gratitude or Attitude – The Choice Is Yours

Throughout our history, the Jewish people have complained time and time again, causing the long-lived exile we are currently living through today. From אדם הראשון (Adam), the first of G-D’s human creations, up until this very moment, the Jewish people have always complained and will continue to do so. It must stop! As we know, the ultimate purpose of our creation is to attain the greatest level of pleasure life has to offer. That being said, the ultimate purpose of the Jewish people is to sing and praise Hashem as it is written in Isaiah, “I have formed this nation for Myself, so they will tell My praise.” (43:21) G-D created the Jewish people so that they would be able to tell the entire world of His miracles and wonders, thank Him and praise Him.

 When a person complains, the heavenly court looks down at them and says, “Oh no, he/she is complaining, maybe Hashem misjudged them or forgot to give them something, lets open their book and take a closer look.” The heavenly court then goes on to scrutinize your life. Besides having just gotten yourself into a lot of trouble, you have also disgraced Hashem, who does everything for the very best. Upon taking a deeper look into your book, the heavenly court realizes that not only has Hashem granted you with everything you need and much more, but you’re complaining for no reason. Additionally, it appears that there are a number of sins which you are yet to be held accountable for (only because G-D is all merciful and decided to give you many chances to repent) which the heavenly court has you pay for immediately.

When the Jewish people were led out of Egypt by Moshe, all they knew how to do was complain. ״ויאמרו אל משה המבלי אין קברים במצרים לקחתנו למות במדבר מה זאת עשית לנו להוציאנו ממצרים – They said to Moshe why take us out of Egypt to die in the desert. Are there not enough graves in Egypt?” (שמות י״ד:יא) Despite having just witnessed an abundance of miracles preformed directly by Hashem, whether it be the 10 plagues, the splitting of the sea, the מן (manna) or everything in between, the Jewish people asked, “Is G-D really among us?” It was quite certain that G-D was the one orchestrating everything, but when one decides to dwell on the negative they will surely miss out on all the good He does.

“You cried a free cry, I will make certain that you cry for generations.” When the spies returned from touring the land of Israel, they gave over the news to the Jewish people that the land and its inhabitants were a complete mess and that they would never be able to conquer the land. In reality, Hashem had organized the situation down to a science so that the Jews would be able to capture it with ease, but no, the Jews decided to do what they thought would be most helpful: complain. Looking down at His children in absolute astonishment, Hashem said, “You know what, you guys want to cry over nothing, I will assure you that your tears don’t go to waste. I’ll make sure that you have something to cry over for generations.”

Why hasn’t the redemption come yet? Is it really fair to say that since the Jewish people cried one time thousands of years ago we should still be suffering today? We are not suffering because the people cried for no reason thousands of years ago. We are suffering because we didn’t learn from their mistake. Many of us are lacking that aspect of Emunah that everything Hashem does is for our absolute best. There is no such thing as Hashem doing something which is not in our best interest. Rebbe Nachman says, “Know that the reason for our prolonged exile is due to a lack of Emunah.” All Hashem wants is for us to say thank you and to truly appreciate what He does for us. Yes, sometimes things will be tough, and to us they may seem like legitimate reasons to complain, but it’s crucial that we take a moment before we do anything to appreciate all the good we have. We must belittle the so called “bad” and uplift the good.

״בדרך שאדם רוצה לילך מוליכין אותו״ — In the path that a man wants to go, we lead him. You want complain? Hashem will give you what to complain about. When a person is sad Hashem says “Okay, why should you be sad for no reason? Let me give you a reason to be sad.” When a person cries, Hashem says, “Why cry for no reason? Let me give you a great reason to cry.” When a person is depressed, cries, is sad, etc. the doors and windows to heaven are sealed shut. Hashem even sends an angel to seal up any possible holes that would’ve allowed any of your prayers to get through. However, when a person is grateful, Hashem opens all the openings, and even has an angel take down anything that could possibly hinder your prayers from reaching Him. When a person says thank you, in the heavens they say, “All this person does is say thank you. Whatever he is missing, give him! Don’t even have him ask for it, just give it to him.”

I once heard a story in the name of one of my Rebbeim, Rav Lazer Brody, about יעקב אבינו (our forefather Yaakov) which he quoted from the Dibrot Eliyahu. We all know the story of the battle Yaakov had with Esav’s angel. In the morning when the angel had to leave, Yaakov said he wouldn’t let him go unless he gave him a blessing. Leaving him with no other choice, the angel blessed Yaakov that his name should no longer be Yaakov but rather Yisrael. The angel didn’t bless him, he simply switched his name to Yisrael. Where was the blessing?! The Dibrot Eliyahu explains that when the letters of Yisrael are rearranged, the Hebrew letters spell שיר-אל, Shir-El (song of G-D). The angel did in fact give him a blessing. His blessing was that Yaakov should always attain the spiritual heights in which he would always be able to sing to Hashem in every situation no matter what the circumstances would be. If Yaakov would be able to do so, he would be on the loftiest level to possibly attain in this physical world.

Any trial or tribulation that one faces is ultimately for one’s best and should always go along with a thank you. We know that there are no trials or tribulations without previous transgressions, so from the basic fact that Hashem wants you to be closer to Him and is therefore sending you these trials and/or tribulations in order to repent, should be more than enough of a reason to say thank you. It means He truly cares about you. On top of all that, being thankful and appreciative for everything Hashem does has the ability to nullify the strict and poor judgments which a person would otherwise be held accountable for.

Recently and many times in the past we’ve experienced extraordinary miracles in our encounters with Gaza. There have been times when missiles have missed their intended targets in ways that cannot even be explained by natural means. A few years ago when the Arab-Israeli conflict was extremely violent, one of the Hamas leaders was asked how he could explain the fact that most if not all of their missiles missed their intended targets? He answered as follows “Listen, nowadays you don’t even have to aim. Everything is automatic and computerized. Our missiles are the top of the line and equipped with GPS. All we had to do was insert the exact coordinates and the missile would fly to the requested destination. But what could we do if the G-D of Israel redirected the missiles off their route and protected His children, the Jews?” It is incontrovertible that Hashem is always watching over us. So what if we had a bad day and many things went wrong. Look at the bigger picture. There is an infinite G-D out there who is manipulating and controlling every little aspect of existence down to the last detail. There is absolutely no need to worry. Leave it all up to Him.

Instead of looking at your life from the negative standpoint, look at it from the positive. Don’t focus on the little things that you don’t have, focus on the big things that you do. Instead of focusing on those small pimples on your face, focus on how your entire body works almost miraculously. You have two hands, two legs, two eyes, two ears, a heart that beats, etc. Be thankful! There are many people in this world who would do anything to have what you do. Instead of looking at that which you lack, look at what you do have. Begin to thank Hashem for all that you have, and it won’t be long until you start to see significant changes in your life.

About the Author
Meir Levy has recently returned from Yeshivat Aish HaTorah in Jerusalem and is currently studying at Brooklyn College. Meir has spent a year in Israel learning about G-D’s existence and His impact on our lives. His goal is to inform, inspire, and one day be able to impact Jews around the world, helping them to flourish and blossom through the difficult situations we face throughout our lives.
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