Honorable Mensch-ion


Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel was asked during the Six Day War, “Why are you so dreadfully desperate?” His answer: “Imagine that in the entire world there remains one copy of the Bible and suddenly I see a brutal hand seize this copy, the only one in the world, and prepare to cast in in flames….”

The Torah tells us of the korban toda, the offering of gratitude, Rabbi Bernard Koupko elaborates, if an individual who has gone through an illness or one who has returned form a hazardous voyage is obligated to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, even more so, as a people, who has gone through such persecution and torture, should we thank God for our lives?

Who must we thank? Who must be acknowledged? We must connect our story to the Torah. Our gratitude begins with our patriarchs and matriarchs and extends to the likes of Rabbi Akiba and Maimonides, following the likes of Rav Kook and our Rabbis today.

The midrash, expounding on the gratitude offering, explains that as humans, we fail when we do not properly acknowledge and appreciate a great moment of history.

Most of us fully recognize that we are living in that moment and that we are part of that moment. We did not come out of nowhere. Our story started at Mount Sinai, and we will continue through trouble and travail. Yet, more importantly, we will continue through blessing and triumph.

King Hezekiah was denied greater victory because he did not offer a shira, a song of gratitude to God.

This Shabbat, may we offer a song, a prayer, a hope for the week ahead.

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