The end of the school year provides a wonderful opportunity to refine our children’s awareness of and capacity for Hakoras Hatov – having and showing appreciation to those who have benefited us. In school, students have been helped directly by teachers, assistants, specialty teachers, office staff, parent volunteers, maintenance crew, administrators, and for many, therapists and tutors.
Hakoras Hatov goes way beyond the articulation of the words “thank you.” It is a deep awareness and cognizance of the fact that someone, even if it’s their `job’, has done something for me. In truth, being Makir Tov, showing appreciation, is not something that comes naturally or easily. It is also an obligation that has no limit. HaGaon HaRav Alter Chanoch Henach Leibowitz, zt’l, based on a Medrash in Devarim Rabbah, shows this to be so. After the Klal Yisrael said Na’aseh V’Nishmah (we will do, and then we’ll come to understand), they also indicated that they did not want to stay on that Madreiga (lofty level) forever. The Gemara, explained by Tosfos in Maseches Avoda Zora (5A) illuminates the underlying reason – the Jewish People did not want to be in the position of being so beholden to Hashem, to be so obligated to show Hakoras HaTov. HaRav Leibowitz asks – they are already so beholden for everything else – what difference does it make to be a little more beholden??
This teaches us that the obligation to show Hakoras HaTov is endless and for every additional kindness received, there is an additional need to show more appreciation. This is the lesson we need to impart to our children. Think about the myriad of times and circumstances in which they have been helped. Analyze how much effort, forethought and planning must have gone into a certain lesson, project or event. Think about how many people’s efforts and actions have to come together to make things happen that they so enjoy, appreciate and benefit from.
It should be obvious, that the next logical step after appreciating teachers and school personnel should be developing a heightened sense of awareness and Hakoras Hatov to parents, for the endless and limitless efforts they make on behalf of their children, from before they’re born until today, and beyond. Appreciative children are happy children – by focusing on appreciating what they have, rather than brooding and complaining about what they lack, they will have the keys to being upbeat, positive, happy and well-adjusted people. It’s a win-win!
Appreciate a wonderful Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh,
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Rabbi Kalman Baumann