Why I am excited about the 40 days of gratitude initiative

In the month of Shevat that begins next week we see the beginnings of spring, with Tu B’Shvat when the process of sap running through trees begins.


Three days after this 40 day initiative of gratitude (see www.jewishwomenunite.org to sign up) ends, we celebrate Purim, a time when Hashem’s hidden kindnesses are revealed and we experience great joy in knowing He is behind every detail of our lives.


What is it that has to change in order for Hashem’s kindnesses to be revealed in this world and not hidden?  Let’s remember how Hashem became concealed, from the story of Adam and Eve eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.



The nachash told Eve that Hashem did not want them to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil  because they would then be like Hashem Himself – Creators – and Hashem did not want that.  Hashem never said that, but He did make us with vulnerability (wanting honor and love) to make this mistake in order to give us real free will regarding where we seek honor and love from – Hashem or a false belief (that we can be creators). This suggestion from the nachash, that they COULD be creators just like Hashem if they eat and disobey Hashem’s commandment, put Eve into enemy territory, into the grips of jealousy, wanting to be a Creator like Hashem so much that she desired the food (lust) and rebelled against Hashem (seeking honor) and she ate and gave the fruit to Adom.


When I think about this story and try to learn from it in my inner world, what comes up for me is how much we want to be seen in the very best light.  It seems our natural inclination is to project an image of ourselves as flawless and worthy of respect.  Of the utmost respect!! And, of course, if we are worthy of respect, then we are definitely worthy of being loved and having our needs met.  Now we see what others have, and what we lack, and our imagination takes us into enemy territory and into darkness and danger.


Sometimes I feel jealous when I see situations that are upgrades to mine.  Do you?


What saying thank you does in such a moment is it helps us move out of “enemy territory” and back into healthy relationship with Hashem, which restores to the highest degree possible our ability to be with/one with Hashem by asking Him to help us act like Hashem.


How does asking Him to help us act like Him restore the relationship that Hashem designs for us as ideal? It recognizes that we are NOT Hashem but rather His creation here to serve Him in the moment.


Hashem creates our soul in His Image but, in reality, we are not Hashem.  Thus, there is that existential shortcoming.  He is Hashem and we are not.  We have free will to choose to be connected to Hashem by emulating His Kindness or, heaven forbid, disconnected from Hashem through a choice, albeit stemming from a natural survival instinct reacting to an existential threat to our self-image/ego, to use the forces He gives us to “create” for ourselves something we believe will “fix” the matter, even if every step may not be to Hashem’s will as stated in Torah.


Hashem does not wish for the holiness of our life force to be “fed” to the forces of destruction, i.e. things we create that we believe will bring goodness to us even though it is not Hashem’s will as stated in Torah (we wish to be creators). So He Hides – as an act of kindness – until we, with our free will, make a choice to connect again.  The faith that saying thank you demonstrates begins that reconnection.


By virtue of the Creation itself, we are NOT, obviously, Hashem!  Yet we wield forces that stem directly from Hashem – the sefiros, the middos that form the world, the utterances, that correspond to emunah/faith, taanug/pleasure, ratzon/will, chochma/wisdom, bina/understanding/imagination, chesed/kindness, gevurah/strength, tiferes/harmonizing of opposites, netzach/endurance, hod/humility, yesod/bonding/foundation, and malchus/kingship/humility.  These characteristics have a force of doing in this world.  The doing is done ONLY by Hashem.  Yet we can acquire greater measures of the middos and thereby be given more force to direct.  Who is doing it?  Hashem.  Who, through prayer and relationship with Hashem initiates the presence of the force here in time and space?  Man.


When we acknowledge this, we stop misinterpreting our lives.  If we have been insulted and we are feeling disrespected, that moment of forgetting that we are not Hashem and that He is behind it places us in enemy territory – anger, pain, sadness, limitation, frustration.  And in that place, the forces that ARE our life force given to us to form an eternal identity instead become nourishment for the forces of destruction, the army of the yetzer hara.  “Thank you” reminds us that all that is happening is that Hashem is placing some forces that naturally exist in our inner world and are awaiting rectification/re-connection to Him in our “inbox” for us to re-direct in a manner that will then give us the capacity to act in a manner that will reveal those forces in a way that shows that He is Hashem, lovingkind, compassionate.  We do this with the simple understanding that He is One despite how we feel.  When we choose to love Hashem and say thank you, I see my natural thinking and I do not wish to be in this limited, constricted space but rather in connection with You, that reality, the essence of truth, helps us unify the opposing force within us to that truth.  Hashem is One.  We pull off the mask that our natural inclinations and perceptions present as truth, that we have been disrespected and therefore unloved and must do something to survive.  Survival depends on Hashem alone, for He alone is thinking up absolutely every moment and object and circumstance.  So let go of thinking WE control the outcomes!! No need to worry.  Hashem is NOT LIMITED.


The simple truth is that Hashem designs us knowing that this place of desiring to be a creator within us is imperceptible to us unless we seek to bring it out of love for Hashem to our conscious mind through self-investigation and prayerful request.  When we recognize Hashem is Hashem and we are not – in this way, something within us improves and we think of something compassionate to do so that we channel creative force as He Designs us to do.  That compassion we channel is Hashem’s midda that we are revealing, and from there, that force can operate in the world.  It is Hashem’ force that we reflect into the world by choosing to remove the veil of our natural thinking that we could be creators like Hashem.


This is how Hashem can come to be seen in this world.  When each of us makes this choice, as often as possible, in our inner world, His Compassionate force flows into the world.  Thank you for all the good, and thank you for the opportunities to bring opposites together when things appear not good.


May our tests become easier as we reveal Hashem’s kindness more and more. And may we soon see a revealed world.

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