Ask The Rabbi

For the week ending 24 January 2015 / 4 Shevat 5775

Thank the Lord

by Rabbi Yirmiyahu Ullman -
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From: Jennifer

Dear Rabbi,

With so many horrible things happening in the world, I’m having trouble making sense of it and wondering where is G-d in all this. Do you have any suggestions for coping?

Dear Jennifer,

The essence of being a Jew is to give thanks.

That’s what the name for Jew in Hebrew means: Yehudi - one who gives thanks or acknowledgment.

As spiritual descendants of Judah, who was so named by Leah as an expression of thanks to G-d, it is incumbent upon us to develop awareness of G-d’s goodness and express appreciation for it.

In fact, paradoxically, it’s the very abundance of G-d’s goodness which actually masks His presence in the world!

How so? Example:

We cannot live without air. And, thank G-d, it’s everywhere, and for free. Yet we hardly ever think about it or its value and importance. Can you imagine how much attention we’d pay to air if it was limited!

So, the very preponderance of air “prevents” us from properly appreciating it.

The same thing applies to health and food and children and so many things. G-d gives us so much bounty, so much blessing, so much good that we actually come to take all that abundance for granted.

The result is that on the backdrop of overlooked blessings, the relatively few difficulties we have, or become aware of, gain un-proportional importance precisely because of their being so few in number!

The Hebrew word for World is olam, which actually means hidden. G-d’s hidden kindness in the world is one manifestation of this concealment. Rather than allowing the few bad things in life to further deflect our acknowledgment of G-d’s blessing in the world, we should actually recognize them as detour signs directing our attention back to the highway.

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