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ויאמר ה׳ אל משה אמר אל אהרן קח מטך ונטה ידך על מימי מצרים ..
(שמות ז׳ י״ט)

And Hashem said to Moshe, "say to Ahron, 'take your staff and stretch out your arm over the waters of Egypt'" ..
(Exodus 7:19)

Rashi says that since the water "protected" Moshe when he was placed in it as a baby, he wasn't the one to directly strike this first plague (dam) or the second (tz'fardaya). Similarly the third makah (kinim) rose from the dust upon Ahron's striking the ground with the staff; again Rashi there (8:12) comments that this is because the earth "saved" Moshe when he buried the Egyptian in the sand (both of these occured in last week's Parsha).

The Gur Aryeh explains that this teaches derech eretz; as the Gemara says (Bava Kamma 92b) "do not throw a clod of dirt into a well from which you drank".

But it is somewhat difficult to understand - do water and dirt have feelings?!

In this beautiful and powerful d'var Torah, R' Yonasan Sacks explains:
How are we to understand this sense of hakoras hatov? Surely, the water and dirt did not go out of their way to aid Moshe Rabbeinu. Inanimate objects do not need, and cannot appreciate our gratitude.

We often measure our obligation of hakoras hatov from the perspective of the one who performed the act of chessed. We ask ourselves, how far did he go out of his way to help me? Will he appreciate my thankfulness?

The inability of Moshe Rabbeinu to participate in the initial makos teaches us that we must also view hakoras hatov from the viewpoint of the beneficiary. The mere fact that Moshe Rabbeinu benefited from the water and dirt elicited an overwhelming sense of gratitude.

In this sense, Gemora Brachos (58b) contrasts the Oreach Tov and the Oreach Ra. Wheras the ungrateful guest minimizes his need to express gratitude, claiming, "kol toreach shetorach baal habayis zeh, lo tarach elah bishvil ishto uvanav," that the baal habayis exerted little additional effort on the guests behalf, the appreciative guest views any benefit that he received as though it was exclusively for him.

The Gra explains that each of us is an oreach in this world which Hashem created. One could selfishly feel that Hashem created little exclusively for him. How difficult was it for Hashem to provide me with a measure of good. True hakoras hatov, however, demands that each of us, as an oreach tov, view all chasdei Hashem as though bishvili nivra haolam, they were performed exclusively for me.

If the Torah insists that we acknowledge benefit from water and dirt, how much more so must we be constantly mindful of the gratitude [towards] our fellow man and ultimately that of Hakadosh Baruch Hu.

I would just like to take the opportunity to express my own hakaras hatov to zorkmidden and evariste. We are all guests here in their "home", and although we could adopt an attitude of "well, they're doing it anyway .." a good guest would feel that "wow - they're going through all this effort just for me!"

discarded lies: the blog that loves you (you, personally)

Posted by joem on Jan 18, 2007 9:30 pm

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