Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

If you’re not grateful, you’re not religious

Atheists need to be ‘religious’ (humble) too

Idols are needy (and moody), but G^d is perfect and lacks nothing. He doesn’t need our gratefulness, our prayers, or us shedding tears.

If you see yourself as more or less perfect, it may come as a shock that it is you who needs gratitude, saying prayers, and shedding tears.

Without enough gratefulness, we’re insufferably arrogant and egocentric.

So, you’re an atheist, but could you not see and believe in good fortune?

So, you worked for it, so you deserve it? You can’t see how your good results are also brought forth by the work of many others: people who went before us, who taught you, who enabled you, etc.? You did not create the chair, the ADSL cable, or the electricity you used to do the work.

Oh, you paid for it? That means you should receive those things, but that doesn’t exempt you from expressing your gratefulness. They are not your slaves. Even if they were, they made an effort to get you what you wanted.

Ah, everyone indominably deserves to be treated with dignity, etc. That’s true, but when we get what we deserve, we can’t say: Thank you?

That’s why we should feel and express gratitude not just to G^d, and the grocers and farmers, but also to the Earth and the lattice plant itself.

Traditional Jews stand on specially crediting G^d’s Invisible Hand behind all the good we receive. But, that’s to save our character, not for G^d.

We got Life without doing anything for it. We received air, water, food, and protection before we could do more than cry, smile, and poop. Our parents, at times, thought to kill us but didn’t. Shouldn’t we be thankful?

So, mindlessly quickly sort of saying a traditional Blessing doesn’t cut it.

Rabbi Cardozo once quipped that with so many miracles around, G^d needs to strengthen Atheists every day so that they may stay secular. But seriously, I think it’s not G^d but the rabbis. As Reb Shlomo Carlebach said to clarify how seculars are not to blame: If the restaurant is good, people will eat there. Apparently, we, the religious, do something wrong if they stay away. Check these two great writings by two phenomenal rabbis for Independence Day 2023, and you see, they never discuss that of course we should be grateful to live in a Jewish State. Every secularist can feel it, but our greatest rabbis cannot write it? In fact, Rabbi Aryeh Hirsch, with Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Kook whom he quotes from 1964, calls upon the religious to be happy about Israel’s independence. (But Rabbi Kook faults the secular for the lack of joy!) In my synagogue, we sang a couple of Psalms with the word Simcha (joy) in them, but they were sung as if some funeral eulogy.

The Jewish Festivals are a celebration of liberation. Jewish Passover is the birth of the Nation. But actually, its seventh day is the climax, when we narrowly escape through the Sea of Reeds. Or better, perhaps, culminating six weeks later still at Pentecost. Chanukah is the same thing, liberation from assimilation and occupation. Purim too celebrates miraculous rescue from genocide. Israeli’s Independence Day is no less than all of the above. The Ten Days of Repentance, culminating in Yom Kippur, also should be celebrated as National salvation. Yet, jubilant song is inappropriate while our lives hang in the balance, so we fully celebrate at the ensuing Festival days. During the Three Pilgrimage Feasts, joy is Biblically obligated. Yet, often, rituals take too big a place. Happiness should not be a side dish.

In fact, every day, happiness is a Biblical obligation (Deuteronomy 28:47).

Being happy with our share so far protects against being consumed by anger, hate, conceit, greed, egotism, isolation, loneliness, and displeasure.

Say, you drop a plate, and someone dives to catch it before it shatters but fails, would you thank him? Of course. So, thankfulness is not only to express gratitude when we get success or a Yes but also, when things go wrong, or we’re told No. No one is obligated to make us feel comfortable.

We have a new phenomenon in Israel: attacks on bus drivers, doctors, etc. If we all had more appreciation for others, that should disappear.

And we’d treat Mother Earth with more respect. Shabbat was Earth Day.

Yes, some people are chronically too grateful. They can’t remember they are nothing less than anyone else and, therefore also, should receive what they need. They are allowed to say: Everyone suffers if I don’t accept too.

Like the Sages say: Everyone should have a piece of paper in each pocket. One should read: For me, the world was created. The other: I’m nothing.

Life is not giving and taking. It is giving and receiving and saying thank you.

A good marriage is not that both partners take and take because it will never be enough. It’s also not that only one gives and the other receives. The best relationship is that both give and if needed, humbly inform the other of what they lack. As it says in the Sayings of the Founding Parents 1:14: A. If I’m not for myself, who should be? B. If I’m for me, what is the value of my life? C. And if not now, when? A and B contradict. B is often translated with the word only in it, but that’s not what it says. One solution is: A is when we are single, and B covers when we are partnered.

Some people are chronically ungrateful as they really think they aren’t receiving enough. Little secret: For them, it will never be enough. Those who grumpily are for more generosity in the world should give more.

Per definition, activists are displeased by the state of the world/humanity. Yet, the best activists spread hope and optimism, rather than anger and sadness. It’s not upsetting things need perfecting. G^d left us a worthy job.

However, don’t be like the friendly middle-class person who says: Thank you to the teller as if they are his servant. Notice that they are people too and, like a fellow working-class person, say: Have a nice day.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. None of his content is generated by the new bore on the block, AI. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. Or not at all because he doesn't claim G^d talks to him. He gives him good ideas—that's all. MM doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 2000 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe too, here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here:
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