Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Letter of Appreciation - Thank You!


“Dear Rabbi Shear

I have been following your blog with great interest and am delighted to see that you are available to connect with via the email or Skype or other Internet services. I hope your blog is a huge success. For any Jews who do not know you and the wonderful service you offer, I would like to take the opportunity to let them know what a type of a person you are.

When I first heard about you and got in touch via email, I was a little unsure. I was used to talking to a rabbi in person, but not via the email. After a few email chats, I found that you are really a special rabbi and want to encourage others to chat with you and learn with and from you.

What prompted me to be in contact with you was that I was searching for answers to certain difficult situations and experiences. I asked many, many rabbis, and for the most part was disappointed with the answers or reactions I obtained. With you, it was different and I thank you for that. I really and truly value the time that you put into listening to what I had to say or to ask. I had heard from some rabbis that they felt for my pain, but that was just words. I appreciate the fact that you did not just say that, you meant it. You were human enough and humble enough to cry with me, to listen to me, to send words of encouragement from Torah and from your large and beautiful wisdom from all your learning. When I asked questions, mostly you gave some answers and on the occasion you did not know you were very willing to say you would look it up. AND you did. You always followed through with what you said you would do or find out, whether it was a reference or writing a Devar Torah with the answer or a link of some kind.

I also want to mention that while at first I did not want to discuss or learn with a rabbi over the Internet or phone or Skype, in the end this method of learning and seeking assistance was so very valuable. It helped me to take the time to express my thoughts in writing. It helped me to not be embarrassed to ask questions and also to be able to formulate a question when I thought of it, which might not have been at the time another is available to communicate. Also, we were in different countries and having the availability of communicating via modern technology helped to make the world a smaller place. Thank you for all the hours you so willingly gave and for the well thought out answers, guidance and emails.

All in all, I am really grateful for all the time and care you have shown to me and also for the wealth of Torah information I have learnt from you.

To anyone out there who might read this letter of appreciation, I really recommend learning with Rabbi Shear. He is a special person and a dedicated rabbi.

Thank you for everything. I wish you much success with your blog and your teaching.



Dear Anonymous

Thank you so much for your appreciation and encouraging words. This weeks Torah portion – VaYeitzei – speaks about the coming into being of the twelve tribes of Israel – the sons of Jacob and his wives. How appropriate to receive this letter at this point in time.

Jacob’s wife, Leah, is blessed with four children. As our foremothers had Ruach Hakodesh, they all knew that there was destined to be a total of 12 children born to Jacob who would be the start of the entire Jewish nation. They reasoned logically that each would be blessed with 3 children as there were 4 wives in total.

Leah was actually blessed with 6 children out of the entire 12. When she gave birth to her fourth child, she called him Yehuda – Judah. In fact it is from Judah that the Jewish people get their name – “Jewish”. In Hebrew the word for Jew “Yehudi” is directly related to the Hebrew word for Judah – Yehuda. Rashi, the biblical commentator, explains that the reason Leah called her fourth child Judah was because she thanked G-d for blessing her with this child. Why did she thank G-d for this child and none of the others? Of course, one gives thanks for everything one receives. Why should one be ungrateful for certain things, and grateful for others?

In fact, Leah knew that – so to speak – come what may, G-d had allotted her 3 children. It was a given that G-d wanted her to have these 3 children – as the other wives would be blessed with 3 children each as well. However, something changed somewhere, and in fact she received more than her allotted share. The truth is, one may wonder why Leah still did not show the same appreciation for her other children.

The Jewish nation are a thanking nation. Leah’s naming her son with this name pointed to this very idea. That is why Jews are called “Yehudim”. We appreciate everything that we are given. The word “Modeh” in Hebrew – sharing the same root letters as “Hoda’ah” – “thanks” also means to acknowledge something. Thanking is a statement of acknowledgment whereby a person agrees with the other’s statement or action. When one agrees with another, one expresses one’s thanks for the action taking place. Every morning when a Jew awakens, his first word is “Modeh.” Modeh Ani Lefanecha – “I give thanks before You living and existing King, that you returned into me my soul in mercy. Great is Your faithfulness.”

A Jew’s entire being is bundled up with the concept of thanking, of being grateful for something, for showing appreciation, for agreeing and seeing the good things around him, and especially for relating to the world in a way that shows and acknowledges that G-d is in charge of everything.

Leah’s thanking and acknowledgment to G-d for the blessing of a son that was never her due, shows that Leah took it to heart, she felt life to be blessing her with certain givens. She never dreamt that things could get better. But they could. And in fact, even those things that had seemed like givens – were the better. Sometimes, however, we see them as givens and forget to give thanks. In fact, everything deserves a “thanks.”

Leah suddenly realised this. With the birth of her fourth son, she realised that although the fourth child was never supposed to have been hers, in fact it was. She also realised at that point, that in fact, everything is a gift and must be acknowledged as such and appreciated as such.

When I hear another Jew thanking someone for something – and certainly when it comes to myself, I feel tremendously thankful myself! I’m grateful to know that another person out there has seen that something that I gave of myself in this world had an effect, bringing goodness and kindness to the world – something that each of us must do for everyone.

I am thankful for your appreciation towards me, as it gives me the encouragement to want to do more for others too. It makes me feel that I have made a difference. It is really something we all need to do to others, always.

Perhaps, if we’d all give each other the thanks that are due for all the kind things we receive from others each day, we might find ourselves living in an ideal world. A world not just of the basic G-d given gift that G-d wanted to give to us. Rather, we would be blessed with the “fourth son”. We’d be blessed with something that we had never thought could actually be.

Maybe this is what we need right now – today. Instead of the constant criticism that so many dish out freely to others in the hope of “improving” them and “helping” them to make them more successful – perhaps – those few words “Thank you” may do more to the entire world in making someone else great, making that person feel that they’re doing something positive for the world. In turn, this can only add to this person actually doing further good, encouraging others.

As they say “One good turn deserves another!”

Thank you!

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