In this week’s Parsha, Vayechi, we find our father Yaakov on his deathbed surrounded by his 12 sons as he is about to reveal the date when his people will finally achieve their destiny. It was a divine inspiration by which he knew this date. However, before he shared it with them the inspiration stopped and he could not recall the date. Yaakov suspected that perhaps the date alluded him because one or some of his children were not steadfast in their commitment to HaShem thereby causing the divine connection to terminate. Even worse, perhaps that destiny would never be achieved. He therefore asked his 12 sons if there was anyone in the room whose commitment to HaShem was wavering. In response to this question all his children proclaimed, “Hear O Israel (Yaakov’s name was also Israel) HaShem is our God, HaShem is One!” Upon hearing these words Yaakov understood that the reason the information alluded him was because HaShem wanted it to remain a mystery.

How do these words satisfy Yaakov’s concern? They did not proclaim anything else other than their firm belief in HaShem being the One and only God. Are there not many folks who walk this earth that believe in one God and nevertheless are not committed to Him?

The answer is that Yaakov knew his children well. In his home there was no child who was a kafoy tov, an ingrate. Gratitude was an integral part of the very fabric of Yaakov’s home. When his children proclaimed their firm acknowledgement that HaShem was their God and that there was no other being that rules this universe, he knew that their commitment would remain forever.

When a person is makir tov (grateful) he recognizes that his very first breath upon his birth which must be so carefully orchestrated not to happen a moment too early nor a moment too late was gifted by HaShem;

and when he recognizes that all the subsequent breaths until his final one are all gifted by HaShem;

and when he recognizes that that the parents he was given who cared for him during those early years of his life when he is so vulnerable were gifted by HaShem;

and when he recognizes that the economic system that exists in the world which allowed his parents to do their work and buy the necessities of life to provide for him was gifted by HaShem;

and when he recognizes that all parts of his body from his digestive and cardiovascular systems to his nervous and skeletal systems continue to work ceaselessly is gifted by HaShem, then this person will be totally committed to HaShem and to His Torah.

It is true that there are many folks who draw on all these gifts and know that there is only one God, and nevertheless are not committed to HaShem. This is because they do not posses the quality of gratitude.

It is the members of the Jewish nation who are blessed with the natural quality of recognizing our gifts and willingness to bow before our Benefactor. Our only real challenge is recognizing that it is not Mother Nature who has granted us all these gifts but rather her Father.

Let us continue to discover how much HaShem grants us and feel the deep debt of gratitude we owe Him for it. There is no greater joy than reciprocating the good that one receives. How wonderful it is to be a Jew!

Have a wonderful Shabbos

Paysach Diskind