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Todah Le’HaShem Part VI

Updated: May 27, 2020

A psalm of thanksgiving, call out to HaShem, all the earth.  Serve HaShem with gladness…” (Psalm 100:1-2)

"מִזְמוֹר לְתוֹדָה הָרִיעוּ לַיקוָק כָּל הָאָרֶץ. עִבְדוּ אֶת יְקוָק בְּשִׂמְחָה...." (תהלים ק א-ב)

"Baruch HaShem the new company ended up being a scam, charged us 1000 shekels and refuses to refund the money.  This is a special tikkun before the upcoming holiday expenses.  We must sing the Psalm of Mizmor Le’Todah (Psalm 100).”  These were the blissful words I heard from a Ba’al Emunah from Yerushalaim[1] in the early morning hours this week.  Despite it being nearly a month’s salary for him as a full time Avrech[2] in Kollel, he found it perfectly normal to say Todah Le’HaShem for the loss of money he couldn’t afford to lose.   This special Mizmor was written by Moshe Rabbeinu,[3] and thereafter sung by King David and the nation of Yisrael in celebration of surviving life-threatening situations.  Saying it’s merely a “thank you” psalm oversimplifies its magnitude in the life of a Jew.  Indeed, a brief review of the life of Moshe Rabbeinu and King David shows that neither had a peaceful hour in their entire lifetimes.  Yet this psalm is one of the foundations to their ultimate Happiness, which is built upon the ultimate Todah Le’HaShem.  

“A person is obligated to bless God for the bad just as he blesses God for the good” (Berachot 54a)

חַיַּב אָדָם לְבָרֵךְ עַל הָרָעָה כְּשֵׁם שֶׁמְּבָרֵךְ עַל הַטּוֹבָה (ברכות דף נד, עמוד א)

The biblical obligation to Love HaShem with all of our hearts means that we also need to love all of what He does in our lives.  So much so, that the sages teach us the obligation to actually bless HaShem for what we view as bad.  If that weren’t difficult enough, we actually must have the same kavana on this blessing as we do for the good.  There’s one simple problem; we are very picky about the gifts we want from HaShem, and have no interest in bad ones.  As ludicrous as it sounds, one of the primary causes of depression is that we simply don’t know what we want or what’s even good for us.   Like the incident[4] where a certain man disregarded the advice of the sage Rava, and continued praying for a HaShem’s mercy to make a specific woman available to him.  Rava tried explaining to him (i.e. to us) that it’s perfectly fine to pray for a zivug, but don’t limit HaShem by praying for a specific person.  Who says she’s even the right one for you?  

Sadly we consistently forget that HaShem is the manufacturer of all creation, which includes us. This literally means that He knows and will always know what is best for us, much better than we can ever know.  This is also because HaShem’s vision is infinite, whereas ours is limited, to say the least.  But how do we get ourselves to accept the bad as if it were good?

“A person should always be accustomed to say: whatever the Merciful One does, He does for the best” (Berachot 60b)

לעולם יהא אדם רגיל לומר כָּל דְּעָבִיד רַחְמָנָא - לְטַב עָבִיד (ברכות דף ס, עמוד ב)

Understanding, believing, and therefore living by the well-known teachings of Rabbi Akiva is the only functional way to achieve this monumental level of gratitude.  If one simply understood that HaShem is the ultimate good because He only gives good, it can serve as the first building block of this equation.  This means that regardless of how it looks at first, it’s the best possible choice out of all of the choices that are available. 

Hypothetically, if this were us planning a trip from Florida to New York, we would have a finite amount of choices of how to get there.  We can use a plane, helicopter, boat, car, bike, horse, skateboard, or we can simply walk to name a few.  HaShem, on the other hand, has all of those choices in his arsenal, and an infinite amount of others that are beyond the realm of our comprehension.  While our decision is typically determine by short term comfort and convenience, HaShem’s choices are made based on the “eternal” impact of such decisions.   This means that while we will typically choose the faster route of traveling by plane, HaShem will simply cancel the flight altogether in order for us to avoid a plane He decreed to destroy.   He loves us so much, He protects us from our own bad choices. 

 BeEzrat HaShem, in the next part of this series we will discuss many more details of the “how to deal with traumatizing news, as well as how our free choice comes in to play.” As always, we do our best to provide the accommodating Torah sources, so no one ever confuses human opinion with divine facts.  In the meantime, we should all take this time to think, reflect and realize that we all live a life that’s full of difficulty;  it’s time to make something good out of it.  This opportunity alone is reason enough to say Todah Le’HaShem (Thank You to HaShem).


[1] Someone who has strong faith in HaShem that lives in Jerusalem

[2] Torah Scholar

[3] 1 of 11 psalms written by Moshe Rabbeinu

[4] Moed Katan 18b

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