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Giving Thanks

Vayetzei (Genesis 28:10-32:3 )

by Rabbi Ron Jawary

"She [Leah] conceived again and gave birth to a son and said: 'This time I will give thanks to God.' Therefore she called his name Yehuda" (Genesis 29:35).

One of the underlying themes of the Torah is the importance of developing a sense of gratitude. It is interesting that Leah only expresses this gratitude after the birth of her fourth son. One of the ideas the Torah is teaching us is that when we receive any blessing or gift, we are naturally grateful. The difficulty is to retain that state of gratitude when the blessing becomes mundane and commonplace. After three sons, Leah could have easily lost her sensitivity to the Divine and the blessing of family. In order to maintain the excitement and gratitude she named her son "Yehuda," which means "thank you," constantly reconnecting to the appreciation of the gift of her son every time she called his name.

In fact, the Jewish nation is known by the name "Yehuda" to remind us continually of the importance of gratitude. That is why the Rabbis instituted blessings to say not only upon the most seemingly mundane occurrences, such as using the restroom, but also when we see or experience wonders of nature. When you are aware of the Divine, nothing is mundane.

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