Parshas Tzav – Letters of Courage

Dear Chevra, BS”D

In Parshas Tzav we read of the exactitude required of the Korban Todah, the Thanksgiving Offering. Far from lax or informal, the Korban Todah, was complex in its requirements. This teaches us how important it is that we be exacting in our expression of hakoras hatov, of gratitude. Gratitude is the foundation of Yiddishkeit. A Jew must show gratitude to Hashem; and as Yidden, it is incumbent upon us that we express gratitude to our benefactors.

Several years ago Rav Michal Twerski, the Milwaukee Rebbe, shlita, was brought to Eretz Yisrael by his friends Michael and Linda Chernin. Throughout his visit Rabbi Twerksi had a full speaking schedule, at each stop he didn’t miss an opportunity to express his gratitude to the Chernins for bringing him to Eretz Yisroel and affording him the opportunity to meet with the public. Along the same lines, I was once in the home of Rav Twerski waiting to speak with him. As I was waiting in the kitchen I noticed a sink full of dishes. I figured it would be a nice gesture to wash the dishes. I was still waiting when I finished the dishes and figured I’d dry them and put them back on the shelves. When I finished putting back the last of the dishes, in walked Rav Twerski. He asked, “What did you do?” “I put away the dishes,” I said. “I realize that,” the Rav said, “but washing and drying the dishes is my job. It’s how I express gratitude to the Rebbetzin for doing the cooking.”

There were always two New York City police officers stationed outside of Seven-Seventy Eastern Parkway while the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zy”a, would hand out dollars. The Rebbe would frequently go outside to give dollars to the police officers and thank them for being there.

Rav Pesach Krohn tells of the time, while passing through airport security, that he looked at the security guards and said, “Thank you for being here.” A few minutes later while waiting at his terminal, the security guards came up to him and asked, “Does this phone belong to you.” Evidently, he left his phone at the checkpoint, and the security guards, so moved that he thanked them for doing their job, made returning his phone their highest priority.

As with any mitzvah, if we delay expressing our gratitude, we may miss the opportunity. While in university I had the opportunity to develop a kesher (a connection) with Rav Rafuel Gross zt”l, the Kiristera Rav of Miami. A big Yid. A holy Jew. Thinking myself too busy at the time to be bothered, I never expressed my appreciation to Rav Gross for his being there for me. Then he was niftar. I regret everyday not having expressed my gratitude to the Kiristera Rav of Miami.

Our wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers are under enormous pressure as they clean and cook for Pesach. I vaguely recall the Bostoner Rebbetzin, Rochel Horowitz, a”h, sitting at her kitchen table in Har Nof lamenting that men don’t adequately appreciate what women do to make Pesach. As husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers, it is demanded of us that we recognize the hard work these eishes tzidkonious, these righteous women, do to make Pesach kosher and enjoyable for us. The words, “Thank you” are a wonderful, and essential, hakdama (preface) to the seder. Perhaps the reason this Shabbos is called Shabbos HaGadol, the Great Shabbos, is because this Shabbos more than any other, presents us with an opportunity to be involved in the great yesod, the great foundation of our Yiddishkeit, the foundation of hakoras hatov, of saying “Thank you.”

Have a wonderful Shabbos and a chag kosher v’sameach.

Binyamin Klempner

About the Author
At the age of 17 Binyamin Klempner left Teaneck, NJ to pursue a simple existence on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Northern Montana. While residing on the Blackfeet Reservation he discovered the beauty of his Jewish Heritage and traveled to Boston to learn about Jewish life from the Bostoner Rebber, Reb Levi Yitzchok Horowitz, zy"a. From Boston he traveled to Zichron Yaakov where he studied in Yeshiva for a number of years. From there he married and lived with his wife in Milwaukee, WI while studying under HaRav Michel Twerski, shlita. During this time Binyamin also earned a Masters Degree in Social Work. After working as a social worker for several years he moved with my wife and kids to Tiveria, Israel where he works as an organic farmer and homesteader.
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