Do we respond with Gratitude or Attitude?
יא. קָטֹנְתִּי מִכֹּל הַחֲסָדִים וּמִכָּל הָאֱמֶת אֲשֶׁר עָשִׂיתָ אֶת עַבְדֶּךָ כִּי בְמַקְלִי עָבַרְתִּי אֶת הַיַּרְדֵּן הַזֶּה וְעַתָּה הָיִיתִילִשְׁנֵי מַחֲנוֹת:
You wake up the morning of an important final or meeting already half an hour late; you slept through the alarm. With eyes half open you quickly throw anything on (your socks don't match), gather your belongings, and with one shoe on, dash out the door. By the time you finally make it to school or work, you notice all the parking spots have been taken. You drive around five minutes, ten minutes, twenty minutes….there are no spots to be found; you get desperate. There is nothing left to do but look up at the sky (through the sunroof, of course) and shout, "Master of the universe! I swear I will give 10 percent of my earnings to sedaka each year, pray three times a day, start a Torah study group in my home, I'll wait six hours between meat and dairy foods. I only just need a place to park right now!"
Just as you finish your heart-wrenching plea, a guy pulls out of a parking spot right in front of you, by which you turn to HaShem and say, 'Never mind, I found a spot!'
Does this story sound too familiar?
We all want to be successful. When we finally find it, we can respond in one of two ways: we can show Gratitude to HaKadosh Barukh Hu for providing us with this berakha out of His Mercy and Kindness, or we can have Attitude that we deserved it all along and it even then, it took too long to reach us. We can either be humble or we can be arrogant. The question remains, do we forget HaShem after he blesses us?
'I have become small from all the kindnesses and from all the truth that You have rendered Your servant….'
Just as Yaakov Avinu hears that his brother who is seeking his life is approaching his camp, and he understands that he is at risk of losing all his family and possessions, this is his reaction.
Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi explains that Yaakov had every right to be arrogant for everything he was blessed with. We see the multitudes off offspring he was surrounded with and we can easily survey his wealth based on the lavish gift he presents Esav. However, despite all of this berakha, Yaakov expressed utmost humility and deems himself unworthy of it all.
We learn that not only do we have to be thankful for the good that HaShem blesses us with, but we also have to be grateful for the 'bad', for even when Yaakov Avinu's life and family were at stake, his initial reaction was that of thanks.
We must understand that there is no such thing as bad being done to us. What would possibly be the purpose of HaShem presenting us with something negative? Revenge? Anger? HaShem doesn't need to play games. Ultimately, everything ends up for the greater good, we just have to be patient enough to see the big picture. When we realize everything comes from HaShem, we realize that literally everything is also good.
Gam Zu leTova, Everything is for the good.
That is why seemingly 'bad' things happen. Not to push us away, but because these things are really good things that happen to us. For this we must be thankful. By being thankful, we strengthen our connection to HaShem Yitbarakh. If has ve'Shalom we become arrogant, we are asking HaShem to move over a little to make room for us, because we think we know what we deserve, and not only that, we want it when it is convenient for us.
The more humble we are, the closer we become to HaShem and the more deserving we are of His berakhot. If we become arrogant and believe we must take things into our own hands, we will be left to fend for ourselves. Let's see how successful that person will become….
So how do we become humble?
WHEN WE REALIZE WHO EVERYTHING IS COMING FROM, WE BECOME HUMBLED. WHEN WE REALIZE IT IS ALL COMING FROM HAKADOSH BARUKH HU HOW COULD WE POSSIBLY BELIEVE THAT IT IS OUR OWN PERSONAL EFFORT THAT GAINED US WHAT WE HAVE IN LIFE?
We become humble only by expressing gratitude to HaShem. We tell HaKadosh Barukh Hu, Ribono Shel Olam, I know that I would never have been able to achieve this on my own. It is solely YOU who graces me with this abundance of berakha, I am but undeserving. Even if I do not understand the situation right now, I know it is for the best. So THANK YOU for providing me with everything I need, even when I am considered unworthy of such a gift from You.
Be'ezrat HaShem may we all develop the humility to understand that anything that comes our way is a reflection of HaShem's Mercy and Love, and by no means a direct product of our own efforts. May this humility grants us the ability to become thankful for each situation we are faced with and yield may more berakhot to come!
Shabbat Shalom uMevorakh!
Sources: Chabad.org, based on Tanya, Part II (Igeret Hakodesh), Epistle 2, and Likkutei Sichot, vol. 5, p. 396.