Thanks for the Bathroom?!

This is a guest column by Rabbi Da-vid Rosenthal, from Aish Minnesota.  Read Rabbi Da-vid’s Divrei Torah on his blog.
“Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone”.
The words from a famous song that we can all relate to.
A well-known Rabbi once commented that although he’d been asked numerous times why particularly unfortunate events had happened to various individuals, he had never been questioned on why fortuitous occurrences had happened to people.
Similarly, a man drew a small dot on a large piece of paper and held the item up for all to see. “What do you see?” he asked to the crowd at random. Everyone responded in kind: “A black dot”.
“What about the piece of paper?” asked the man.
By default, we tend to focus on what we lack. It’s the one thing missing at the picnic which ruins our day. The wedding could be a perfect affair, but if only the band wouldn’t play so loud.
One of the most fundamental principles in Judaism is called “hakaras hatov”, which literally means “recognizing the good”. There are 3 areas where we can direct our efforts in the weeks leading up to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
The first being our relationship with our fellow man, the second our relationship with G-d, and the third being our relationship with ourselves. Hakaras hatov is essential in all 3 areas, and a great way to start the process of growth and change.
Do we ever stop to take notice of all the bountiful blessings in our lives? The mere fact that we wake up in the morning is a gift we mustn’t overlook. Try to imagine what life would look like if we didn’t have all that good fortune in our lives.
Not having our friends or family; not having the ability to walk and talk. It is by noticing and saying thanks that we develop our relationships with those around us. Even just for having a friend to talk to – let them know you appreciate it. And Hashem is no exception. How often have we thanked Him for all He’s given us? It’s a tremendously powerful way to connect to the Creator. There’s even a blessing to be recited after going to the bathroom! Can you imagine if that didn’t work properly.
Lastly, in relation to how we look at ourselves. We have to recognize the good in ourselves. Define our strengths, notice when we do something right. When we do this, we begin to build ourselves – to realize we have the capability to be great.
May we all recognize the good around us – and show our genuine appreciation because of it.
(Photo: hyperboreal)