02 May LAG B’OMER & GRATITUDE
Years ago, someone
gave me a Tony
Robbins cd to listen
to. I was excited to
hear what one of the
people of modern
times would have to
say and how it could change my life for the
better. He started his talk by saying that he
has the secret to both happiness and success.
If you follow his advice and begin each and
every day of your life exactly as he
prescribes, he can all but guarantee you will
find yourself both happier, and achieving
your goals and dreams.
I was very eager to hear what his secret is.
What Tony Robbins said is correct, but for
me, and for you, and for Jewish 3-year-olds
around the world, it was nothing new. The
secret to happiness and to achieving
success, he said, is to start every day of your
life by expressing gratitude. As soon as you
wake up, before doing anything else, say
thank you. Be grateful and appreciative for
being alive, having a roof over your head,
having your health if you are lucky, your
He continued that it isn’t enough to think
appreciatively, but you need to start your
day by verbalizing and actually saying
thank you out loud. If you wake up with an
attitude of gratitude, the rest of your day is
guaranteed to be successful and happy.
What Tony Robbins is teaching in the 21st
century, Judaism has taught since its
inception thousands of years ago. From an
early age, we teach our children to wake up
saying Modeh ani lefanecha, I am grateful
to you God for the fact that I woke up, that
I am alive to see another day, for the
wonderful blessings in my life and for my
relationship with You. It has been inculcated
within us from our youth that we don’t
wake up feeling entitled, deserving and
demanding. Rather, we wake up with a deep
and profound sense of gratitude,
appreciation and thanks.
In my experience, Tony Robbins is right.
How we start our day has an incredible
impact on how the rest of it will go. This
week we will celebrate Lag B’Omer, the
33rd day of the Omer. Each day of the Omer
is characterized by another kabbalistic
attribute. Lag B’Omer is Hod sh’b’hod, the
glory of glory, reflecting our appreciation of
God’s greatness and glory. The Hebrew
word hod can be understood as coming
from the same word as hodu, or modeh,
meaning thanks. Lag B’Omer is a day
characterized as “thankfulness within
thankfulness,” or a day to celebrate
Lag B’Omer is a day characterized as
“thankfulness within thankfulness,” or a
day to celebrate gratitude.
The Chassam Sofer, Rav Moshe Sofer
says that the miraculous manna that fell
from Heaven began to descend on Lag
B’Omer. On the first day, the manna was
undoubtedly greeted with great enthusiasm
and appreciation, but as time went on and
there was an increasing expectation the
heavenly bread would descend, it became
much easier to take it for granted and to
forget to be appreciative for it at all.
Therefore Lag B’Omer is a time that we
identify and say thank you for all of the
blessings that regularly descend into our
lives, but unfortunately, like the manna, that
we take for granted.
It is so easy to fall into a sense of
entitlement and to forget to be grateful.
Why should I thank my children’s teachers?
They’re just doing their job. Why should I
be so appreciative to the waiter, or the
custodian, or the stewardess? Isn’t that what
they are supposed to do? When was the last
time we said thank you to whomever cleans
our dirty laundry? Do we express gratitude
regularly to our spouse who shops, cooks
dinner, or who worked all day to pay for
dinner, or in some cases did both?
As we celebrate Lag B’Omer, let’s not just
say modeh ani in the morning and then
quickly transition to feelings of entitlement.
Let’s remember to say thank you to the
people who do extraordinary things in our
lives. But even more importantly, let’s
especially express gratitude to the people
who do the ordinary things that make our
lives so filled with blessing.