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Thursday, Tevet 26, 5779 / January 3, 2018


Hakarat HaTov, which is the Hebrew term for showing gratitude, is an important concept in Torah and Judaism. We find it in this week’s Parsha, Va’eira, with the three first plagues, blood, frogs and lice, with which G-d punished the Egyptians.


The other seven plagues were performed through Moshe himself or together with Aaron, but the first three were brought about only by Aaron. The plagues of blood and frogs, involved smiting the NileRiver. The plague of lice came through hitting the earthof Egypt.


Our sages explain why it had to be Aaron who brought these plagues. The waters of the Nile saved Moshe’s lifewhen his mother placed him there, so he couldn’t be the one to smite it. It would be a lack of gratitude to the river that saved him. Because the earth was helpful to Moshe when he buried the Egyptian whom he killed, he couldn’t be the one to smite the earth to bring forth the plague of lice.


We find this concept also later in the Torah. When Miriam was afflicted with leprosy as a result of speaking against Moshe and was placed in isolation for seven days, all of Israel waited for her. This was an expression of gratitudefor her waiting at the water, watching over her little brother, Moshe, when her mother placed Moshe in the river.


Later in the Torah we find the following commandment, “Do not despise an Egyptian, for you were a stranger in his land.” Although, the Egyptians enslaved the Jewish people for over one hundred years, yet, we are commanded not to despise them as a recognition of gratitude, because we found refuge and they gave us sustenance in their land.


The fifth commandment of the Ten Commandments is: “Honor your father and motherso that your days will be lengthened on the land that G-d, your G-d, is giving you.” One of the reasons why the mitzvah of honoring parents is so important and is the only one of the Ten Commandments which has a reward placed on it, is for the importance of Hakarat Hatov. We owe our parents gratitude for all they did for us while we were helpless and growing up.


In the Book of Numbers (Bamidbar), G-d tells Moshe to take revenge of the Midyanites for what they did to the Jewish people. But instead of going himself, the Torah tells us that Moshe sent others to do this. Our sages ask, “G-d tells Moshe to take revenge and he sends others? They reply: “Moshe said, I found refuge in Midyan when I had to flee Pharaoh. I had so much benefit in Midyan (he married his wife Tzeporah in Midyan) it is not right for me to fight against them. Moshe showed gratitude. 


When the matriarch, Leah, had her fourth son, she named him, Yehuda(Judah), which means thanks. She gavethanks to G-d. The Jewish people are called “Yehudim” which comes from the word “Yehuda.” It teaches us that as Jews we must remember to give thanks and express gratitude.




In loving memory of Malka bat Ya'akov & Rachel, whose Yartzeit is today, the 26th of Tevet.

She was a best friend to all. May her soul rest in peace in Gan Eden

Dedicated by her family