Archive for Hakarat Hatov

Appreciating What One Does for You

            The King of the Jewish nation, Shaul, felt threatened by David who became very popular by winning one of the most lop-sided one-on-one battles in history, by beating the giant and heavily favorite, the ferocious Goliath. Goliath represented one of Israel’s archrivals, the Philistines. It was a tremendous show of courage and David became an instant hero. David was from the tribe of Yehuda where the kings were to be chosen from. Shaul, who came from the tribe of Benjamin, knew inevitably someone from Yehuda would become king. Later the prophet Shmuel anointed David the future king of Israel, which infuriated the present king. Shaul’s animosity became so great toward David that he wanted to kill him. However, as time went on, David became stronger, gathering up men to join him. In one of the more famous incidences in the Tanach (Prophets), David snuck up to where Shaul was sleeping, who was in the midst of chasing him, and cut Shaul’s garment. By demonstrating this act and showing it to him later, he wanted to be clear, as to convey that he has no hostility toward Shaul and how easily it would have been to kill him.’ I have no ill will toward you’; perhaps, Shaul should soften his stance towards him.
       It’s most puzzling that when David who was on his deathbed, he could not keep warm; he was constantly cold and no garment could make him comfortable. Apparently, he was being punished for cutting the garment of Shaul. But why? David wanted to make a point of strength; he wanted to make peace between them. Perhaps Shaul was humiliated, but, even so, it was not intended to be a malice act. Why was he punished so severely?
        In this week’s Parsha, we find Yaacov wanting to marry Rachel. He knew though, that her father, who has a reputation of a cheat, might trick him. Therefore, he gives Rachel signs that when implemented will ensure that indeed it would be Rachel he’s marrying. However, Rachel gives over the signs to her sister Leah, stating ‘I do not want my sister humiliated when Lavan’s plans foil and Yaacov discovers it’s Leah who he’s marrying and not me’.
       By Rachel giving over the signs, it fortified the marriage between Yaacov and Leah and through that union producing six out of the twelve tribes. In essence, Rachel sacrificed her having all of the twelve tribes because she did not want her sister Leah to be humiliated.
        The question Rabbi Olbaum asks, ‘I understand there’s no street lights and it’s properly pitch dark, but didn’t Yaacov realize it’s not Rachel he’s with? Even the breathing of a person is recognizable. If Yaacov was so careful with the signs, then wouldn’t he be as diligent and on the alert at this crucial juncture too? Nevertheless, the next morning he was surprised. How can that be?
       Our sages teach us that Rachel’s virtue was modesty, to such an extent that the sensitive Yaacov wasn’t able to discover and recognize her scent and voice. This characteristic of Rachel’s embracement of modesty enabled Leah to be saved. If it were any other woman, she would have been discovered. Clothing is the face of modesty; it creates a barrier from sinning. David, who is the descendant of Leah (from the tribe of Yehuda) cut the garment of Shaul (from the descendants of Rachel).
       In essence, you cut the hand that feeds you. If it weren’t for Rachel, where would Leah be? The modesty of Rachel saved Leah. David targeted one of the strengths of Shaul who also practiced, and was known for modesty, just like his ancestor. Seemingly, this lack of respect was a grave sin.
       We see modesty is one of the building blocks of Judaism and clothing is its vehicle. One of the reasons a Jew wears a Talit or Tzitzit is because it is a spiritual garment in which G-d gave us. It too is a garment that represents the foundation of Judaism to the highest degree.

Why is it so Special to Eat Fish Friday Night?

From the lessons of Rabbi Isaac Oelbaum:

Noach worked very hard in the ark, catering to the animals. For one year, he fed and took care of them. When Noach finally came out of the ark and was on dry land, G-d rewarded him and mankind for his devotion and hard work, by giving him the opportunity to eat meat (The George Foreman grill was now on the market!). Until that juncture in time, man was on an exclusive grain diet. How exciting that must have been. The question is asked, as gratitude for taking care of the animals, man had them for supper, however the fish weren’t part of the package. Noach didn’t take care of them. Was he allowed to eat them and if yes, why, and when?

The fish did not partake in the degradation of the world. Therefore, they were led to a certain section of the ocean called Okinus where the waters were bearable and not boiling hot. The reason they were saved is that they were not, in any way, participants of the sin and therefore, they are the symbol of protection against the evil eye. They were under the radar gun, invisible.

So what about eating fish? In many Jewish cultures, fish is a tremendous delicacy that people wait all week for. Interestingly, many commentaries say that Jews were not allowed to eat fish until MATAN TORAH – the receiving of the Torah. G-d rewarded the Jews to eat fish, a gifted species, not blemished by sin on that glorious day of MATAN TORAH. The receiving of the Torah happened to occur on Shabbat. So one should be honored to eat this gift on Friday night. Free from an evil eye, symbol of receiving the Torah – WOW!! It has tremendous spiritual benefits. Try it!!

Jewish Continuity


This past Sunday, the mothers and daughters of 147th and 76th road, (actually, it spilled over to 77th Ave as well), in Kew Garden Hills, organized for the boys and girls of their families, a siyum hasefer – a finishing of a book party, in the park. Every Shabbat for the past six years, approximately, these tzadekot would organize a brachos party where the kids would hear a story from various popular inspirational Jewish books. They then, make blessings and answer amen to various goodies that are prepared and presented on the host table. A different family would host each Shabbat.


The Sunday get-together reminds of a story I read a number of years ago which I would like to share. This story probably took place within the past 20 years. A man was walking past a synagogue in Boro Park where a funeral was taking place. Curious, he walked in to see who had passed away. Realizing that indeed, he knew the deceased, he approached the family and insisted that he would like to say a few words about him. Although, he was not scheduled to speak, nevertheless, he got the opportunity because of his persistent nature. Everybody was curious, especially the family, what this person, whom they did not know, was going to say. He began telling his story; “Every morning, I would be waiting at the bus stop for my bus to get to work. After some time, I realized something peculiar on the opposite direction of where I was going, across the street. There was this old man, the deceased, waiting at the bus stop, however, he never got on any bus. He’d be watching all the vehicles that passed by. One day, I got to the bus stop very late and realized that he was getting up to – I guess – walk home. Curious George that I am, I decided to cross the street and asked him, “What’s with your routine?”


He was very friendly and he kept on blessing the Jewish people. Then he started to tell his story. “I was in a concentration camp and we were always taunted by the German guards how it’s the end for “you Jews”; we all felt doomed. Today, 50 years later, I would get up early and go to the bus stop and count, about 30 school busses, with little Jewish children going to Yeshiva. I would not leave until I count 30. After the last bus, I would remember the Germans’ words, “It’s the end for you Jews”, and then I would thank G-d for all he has done.”


It’s a wonderful feeling seeing my children make brachot and even tell stories at this special Shabbat get-together. It’s a tremendous merit that innocent children are saying brachot and answering amen. I remember walking in Yerushalayim, as well as my son’s yeshiva in Queens, and hearing the boys singing in unison passages from the Torah. It reminded me of when I did that. The adrenaline running high and you are screaming and singing on the top of your lungs.


The old man’s last words to the Curious George friend, “It’s not the end for us, Jews”; he then smiled and said, “we are still alive.”

Around the Shabbat Table- Parshat Ki Tavo

        By Rabbi Gedalia Fogel 


Hi! This is Rebbe speaking:


   Back to school? Now you’ll surely be able to answer all the questions. You’re already in the thinking mode!

   This week’s parsha, Parshat Ki Tavo, speaks about one who will own a field in the land of Israel. When his fruit will be ripe, he will bring some of his fruit to the Kohen (priest) in the Beit Hamikdash (the Holy Temple) to give thanks to Hashem for providing him with such delicious produce.

We must thank Hashem for all that he does for us. We say blessings before we eat, so that we can properly show gratitude to Hashem for giving us sustenance. We pray each day and thank Hashem for all he has done and continues to do.

   We learn from here that we must show Hakorat Hatov, gratitude, to one that does us a favor. We see examples where one even thanks inanimate objects.

Moshe Rabbeinu was careful to thank the water for saving his life. When Moshe Rabbeinu was a baby, his mother put him in a basket in the river since Pharaoh commanded that all Jewish baby boys be killed. Moshe Rabbeinu had Hakorat Hatov to the water for this and did not hit the water when performing the first three Makot, plagues, on the Egyptians. He had his brother Aharon perform them, since it warranted hitting the water.

   Reb Moshe Feinstein was known to thank everyone that did even the slightest favor for him. Even when he was the passenger in a car, he made sure to lean over and call out to the man at the toll booth to thank him for his service.

   Reb Eliyahu Lopian was meticulous in this virtue. He stated that one must have Hakorat Hatov and thank someone even if you paid for their service. Such as: a grocer, bus driver, shoemaker etc. Even if you paid him money you must make sure to thank him properly.

   Reb Eliyahu Lopian was seen cleaning the bench in his Yeshiva. Many disciples ran over and offered to clean it for him. “No thank you. I want to clean this bench myself, since I owe the bench Hakorat Hatov. Each morning this bench helps me fold my Talit. It makes sure that my Talit does not drag on the floor while I am folding it.”

Two nations, Amon and Moav, are not allowed to convert to Judaism. Avraham Avinu saved the life of their grandfather, Lot and they did not show Hakorat Hatov. When the Jews were traveling through the desert on their way to Israel, Amon and Moav did not allow them to pass through their land. They should have given the Jews bread and water but instead they came out to fight against them. One that does not have the midah of Hakorat Hatov cannot be part of the Jewish nation.

Sometimes we don’t notice the good that we have until we are missing it. When one breaks his leg, it is only then that he realizes the greatness of being able to walk each day with ease.

Reb Avigdor Miller waited under water for an extra few seconds so that he can be grateful for every breath. We take these things for granted.

Miss Braun, a 6th grade teacher came in one day. “Girls today we will begin a special contest. I will hand out notebooks to each girl and I want you to write at least one thing each day that you are thankful for.”

Sara immediately started jotting down a list of four things that she was thankful for. Linda on the other hand was stumped. “What are you writing? I can’t think of a thing.” “There’s tons! I am thankful for having great friends. I am thankful for being able to see. I am thankful for walking and of course for the best teacher, Miss Braun. I could go on and on, but I’ll save some for other days.”

Now even Linda got the hang of it. The girls jotted down a few examples every day for months and slowly filled up their notebooks. The girls were surprised that up on till then they had not realized how much they had to appreciate.

At the end of the school year each girl had a treasured book, filled with Hakorat Hatov.


In the middle of 7th grade Linda came down with a dreadful disease that left her hospitalized. All those that came to visit her were surprised with her upbeat attitude. “I’ll let you in on a secret. Last year Miss Braun taught us to have Hakorat Hatov. She requested that we write down things that we are thankful for. Each morning, here in the hospital, I read through my notebook and see how many things I still have to be grateful for. It gives me strength and a good mind-set to conquer the day.”

Thank G-d, Linda overcame her illness and is married with a family today. She makes sure to cherish this notebook and is certain to publicize what she calls a miracle. “This is what kept me going!”

What have we learned today?


What is Hakorat Hatov?

A Jew must always be thankful to Hashem. He must be sure to thank anyone that does an act of kindness even if he paid him for his service.


What are some examples that we can thank Hashem for?

We can say thanks to Hashem throughout the day even when we are not praying. We can thank Hashem for giving us good friends. We must be grateful for our functional limbs, our feet that walk, our hands that move and write. We can thank Hashem that we can speak and hear and for the brain that allows us to think. We should be thankful for our wonderful parents who provide us with what we need.

Boys and girls, who can come up with a notebook-full of Hakorat Hatov? Try it. I’m sure you’ll fill it up in no time.


I’d like to take this opportunity to show my Hakorat Hatov to Rabbi Matmon for allowing me to share some thoughts and ideas with all my fantastic readers. I would also like to show gratitude to all my readers who have sent in words of encouragement and suggestions. I am looking forward to hearing more comments and suggestions.