Monday, February 1, 2021

Reminder of the Obvious

Certain fundamental values often get overlooked or don't get enough attention. That is not necessarily because people don't believe in the matter or disagree with it but because it may be so evident that it gets overlooked. Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato (1707-1746), in his magnum opus, the Mesilas Yesharim, wrote the following words in his introduction. "I have written this work not to teach people what they don't know but rather to remind them of what they already know and clearly understand. However, to the degree that these rules are well known and their truth self evident, they are routinely overlooked or people forget about them altogether." One area that falls into this category, in my opinion, is gratitude. There are so many people in our lives that contribute to our well being that frequently get overlooked. We need to open our eyes and be more cognizant of all the people that make all sorts of contributions. One group of people we tend to overlook, I believe, are the maintenance personnel of our organizations. These men and women work hard to keep our facilities clean and neat, so we can come to shul and have a pleasant davening experience. They wash our floors and clean our toilets without any fanfare or bringing any attention to themselves. Yet, they provide an essential service for our benefit, and they deserve to be recognized and appreciated. The fact they get paid and compensated for their work is not a reason for us not to appreciate them. For this reason, I was very glad that we had the opportunity this week to publicly acknowledge and recognize Ariadna and Maribel, who are responsible for cleaning the shul and school. During COVID, there has been an increased workload on these two women, and they have been working hard to get our campus not only clean but safe. I once commented to Ariadna that we don't view her job as merely cleaning the building but rather as someone who brings joy into our campus with her work. Rabbi Horowitz made a public presentation in the presence of all the students of Torah Academy about the importance of appreciating and recognizing these women for all their hard work. As I was listening to him, I thought that this was a most valuable lesson to pass along to our children and students. It's important for us to reflect on how many people in our lives enhance our quality of life even in a small way and for us to make a more concerted effort to recognize and appreciate those individuals. Gratitude is not just a nice thing to practice. As Rabbi Luzzato wrote, sometimes we need a reminder of the most important values in Judaism.

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My Heart Is In The East

דרש רבי שמלאי מפני מה נתאוה משה רבינו ליכנס לא"י וכי לאכול מפריה הוא צריך או לשבוע מטובה הוא צריך אלא כך אמר משה הרבה מצות נצטוו ישראל ...