I’m Enjoying the Book – By Rabbi Jonathan Gewirtz
While I never became a wine connoisseur, we do enjoy some nice wines with our Shabbos meals and a few years back I bought my wife a small wine refrigerator which stood in our dining room and not only kept wine at the ready,but gave us a good place to set her Shabbos candles up. It served us well and became an accent piece to our Shabbos table.
Recently we replaced the unit with a newer one that is a bit taller and quieter as we had a store credit we needed to use. Instead of sending the old one to the dump, I asked around if anyone wanted it. A fellow told me he wanted it and he picked it up from my home.
Later, he left me several messages thanking me for it, asking me some technical questions, and telling me how much he and his family loved the new addition to their home and that they were enjoying it.
The next time I saw him at shul, he effusively thanked me again, and asked me if I was sure I didn’t want any money for it. I smiled and told him not to worry about it. He then thanked me so much again, with the same enthusiasm as if I had just given it to him. It struck me that even if I had wanted to ask anything for it, his exuberant appreciation more than made up for it.
As many of you know, my latest book, Operation Inspiration, came out just before Chanukah. I gave one to a wonderful Rabbi with whom I had been learning. One day, as I passed him on the street, he told me, “I’m enjoying the book! I’m only about halfway through but I’m really enjoying it.” His wife chimed in, “I’m enjoying it too!”
As I walked on, I smiled, feeling that it was a worthwhile gift, because they really enjoyed it and appreciated the value of it. Like the fellow with the fridge, they had given back to me in a non-monetary but very valuable way. Knowing they were enjoying what I’d given them gave me a sense of satisfaction.
It struck me that we get so much good from HaShem on a constant basis, yet I don’t recall myself getting so excited and expressing my gratitude as much as the fellow who received the fridge or even the couple who said they were enjoying the book. (Which, by the way, you should TOTALLY go out and buy as you and your friends and family will really enjoy it and wish it was longer.)
I started to imagine how HaShem might react if I was more expressive. I mean, yes, I say brachos each morning and praise Him for things like my eyesight, but what if I were to think, “HaKadosh Baruch Hu! You created a beautiful world with amazing things to see; colorful flowers and animals, amazing sunrises and oceans. You created a Torah that lightens up the mind and soul. You gave me a family to love – and you gave me eyes to see all the beauty, to look after my family and study Your Torah!
Baruch Atah, You are to be blessed for giving sight to the blind!”? I could see that HaShem might say to His Heavenly minions, “Look at how much he appreciates the
gifts I give him! I should shower him with more.” Just as when the fellow asked if I wanted to be paid
for the fridge I felt that the fact that he even asked showed how much he appreciated what I gave him, and underscored the fact that his gratitude alone was more than sufficient, I can see HaShem saying the same thing.
The same goes for every blessing we have, whether there’s a specific bracha for it or not. When was the last time you thanked HaShem for your shoes? I know the bracha “She’asa li kol tzorki” refers to them, but when was the last time you thought about them? Or your car? Or the fact that your fingers are dexterous and can do so many things? We have so much to be thankful for but we’re so busy taking it all in that we rarely get to express our gratitude properly.
During the Yomim Noraim, we say, “Avinu Malkeinu, kasveinu b’sefer chaim tovim,” Our Father, Our King, write us in the book of good life! Then HaShem does so, and showers us with a life of blessing. I can only imagine the response we would get if we took the time and gave the focus necessary to give Him feedback and say, “Ribono Shel Olam! Thank you so much. I’m really enjoying the book!”
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