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Developing Gratitude

Lech Lecha (Genesis 12-17 )

by Rabbi Ron Jawary

We don’t know what we’ve got ‘til it’s got.

One of the underlying themes in the Torah is the importance of developing a sense of gratitude. Even the most spiritual person is liable to fall into the trap of ungratefulness.

As Abraham approaches Egypt, a place of danger, after many years of marriage he says to his wife Sarah, "Now I realize how beautiful you are." It seems that when he realized that he might lose her, he became aware of how much she really meant to him.

One of the battles in life is to avoid this danger of becoming accustomed to people and things, and allowing this familiarity to deprive us of our sense of gratitude.

Unfortunately, we so often neglect to realize what we have until it is too late. The Talmud tells us that, in order to help us avoid this pitfall, we should spend a few moments before we partake of any pleasure in the world to say thank you to the Almighty. We should do this even for those things that we all take for granted.

By making a blessing before partaking of any pleasure we protect ourselves from becoming insensitive to the beauty and pleasure inherent in them. We can also take the most mundane moments of our lives and elevate them into a sublime experience, using them as stepping stones to reach the Divine. As King David said, "With every breath I take, I will praise the Divine."

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