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Posted on November 22, 2023 (5784) By Rabbi Yissocher Frand | Series: | Level:

These divrei Torah were adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Series on the weekly portion: #1270 – “It’s Just Too Hard”: Is That an Excuse Not to Fulfill a Mitzvah? Good Shabbos!

After Leah had her fourth son (Yehudah), she said “…This time I will thank (o’deh) Hashem, therefore she called his name Yehudah. And she stopped having children.” (Bereshis 29:35) The Perush haTur ha’Aruch al haTorah (not to be confused the shorter commentary by the same author known as the Baal HaTurim) says an amazing thing: Leah recognized that she received her fair allotment of shvatim (tribes) and asked for nothing more, therefore she stopped giving birth. If a person does not ask for more, they will not get more.

I would have thought, on the contrary, someone receives, and then thanks, and should not be greedy by always asking for more. And yet, the Tur says that when a person thanks and does not include asking for more, then he does not deserve more.

The truth is that we see the same idea from the language used by the Rambam (Hilchos Brochos 10:26). The Rambam beautifully writes: “The general principle is that a person should always cry out for the future, asking for mercy, and giving thanks for the past.” The Rambam is saying that when you express gratitude to Hashem, you not only need to give thanks for what you have already received, but you should simultaneously pray intensely for what will be coming your way in the future.

We see several examples of this in our siddur: In “Modim d’Rabanan” we say… “We gratefully thank You… who have given us life and sustained us. So may You continue to give us life and sustain us…” In the middle of Hallel, we say… “Please Hashem, save us! Please Hashem bring us success!” What is the essence of Hallel? Thanksgiving! Why are we inserting a request for salvation and future success in the middle? We include in our thanksgiving a request for the future.

Likewise, when we recite the “Hadran” that we say when concluding a tractate of Talmud, we first say “Modim anachnu lach…” (We express gratitude before You…”) and then we say “…k’shem she’azartani l’sayem Maseches X, ken te’azreinee…” (May it be Your will… that just as You have helped me complete Tractate X, so may You help me to begin and complete other tractates and books…)

We see a principle: When we thank Hashem, it is not sufficient to merely thank Him for what we have received, but we must ask for the future as well. What is the reason for this? At first glance, it seems counterintuitive. Our first thought might be that we should be thankful for what we received and not be greedy by asking for more.

I saw an interesting explanation in the sefer Abir Yakov. Let’s say a person wins $25,000,000 in a lottery. What is his reaction? “Wow! I am set for life! No more job. No more boss. No more anything. I have my 25 million bucks. I can do whatever I want!” A Jew must know that he is never “set for life.” Every single day and every single moment our lives are dependent on the Almighty with whom our souls are deposited. Every single minute of life is a gift. There is no such thing in Judaism as “I have arrived. I am set for life.”

Therefore, when a person gives thanks for the past, he needs to bear in mind “Thank you Hashem for giving me this, but I recognize and am aware that I am not set, and unless You continuously shower me with Your Blessings, I could be gone in a minute!”

As we have said many times, the Hebrew word “Ho’da’ah” has two meanings. It means to thank and it means to admit. When we thank we also admit, confessing that we are totally dependent on the ongoing assistance and support of “Yotzreinu, Yotzer Bereshis” (our Molder, the Molder of the Universe). That is what we learn from Leah, and that is what the Tur ha’Aruch says.

Transcribed by David Twersky; Jerusalem [email protected]

Edited by Dovid Hoffman; Baltimore, MD [email protected]

This week’s write-up is adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissochar Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Series on the weekly Torah portion. A listing of the halachic portions for Parshas Vayetzei is provided below:

  • # 032 – The Obligation to Give Ma’aser
  • # 074 – Honoring Parents Who Are Not Observant
  • # 123 – Tefilla B’tzibur: Is It Mandatory?
  • # 170 – Marrying Off a Younger Child First
  • # 216 – Maariv
  • # 260 – “Ein Mearvin Simcha B’Simcha”
  • # 306 – Making a Neder During Times of Trouble
  • # 350 – Must Women Daven?
  • # 394 – Accepting Tzedaka from Women
  • # 438 – The Mitzvah of Mesameach Chasan V’Kallah
  • # 482 – Davening to a Malach
  • # 526 – A Million Dollars to Tzadaka If ..
  • # 570 – Tuition and Maaser Money
  • # 614 – The Tefilah of Baruch Hashem L’Olam Omein V’Omein
  • # 658 – Lashon Aramis – Aramaic
  • # 702 – The Marriage that Was Not a Joke
  • # 746 – The Amazing Power of Saying Tehillim
  • # 790 – May Women Always Attend Shul?
  • # 834 – Talmud Torah Vs Kibud Av
  • # 878 – The Baal Teshuva and the Family TV
  • # 922 – Too Much Tzedakah?
  • # 965 – The Proper Time for Maariv
  • #1009 – Sheva Brachos Questions
  • #1053 – The Younger Brother Who Says “I’m Getting Married First”
  • #1096 – Davening With A Minyan – Obligation Or Just A Good Idea?
  • #1139 – Can The Younger Brother Marry Before His Older Sister?
  • #1182 – Chasan Going To Work During Sheva Brochos / Leaving Chasunah Early
  • #1226 – Why Was Rachel Punished for Stealing Her Father’s Idols?
  • #1270 – “It’s Just Too Hard”: Is That an Excuse Not to Fulfill a Mitzvah?
  • #1314 – Is One Allowed To Shower Before Davening?
  • #1358 – I’ve Davened Maariv; Other Minyan Still Davening Mincha – Can I Answer Kedusha?
  • #1402 – Must One Wait For The Rabbi To Begin Chazaras HaShatz?
  • #1446 – The All Too Common Dilemma of a Younger Sibling Marrying Before an Older Sibling
  • #1490 – Can I Switch In the Middle of Shmoneh Esrei from Mincha to Maariv?
  • #1534 – The Chasunah Musician Who Could Never Daven Maariv Bezibur
  • (2022) – Are You Consistent With When You Daven Maariv?

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