Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Thoughts Of A "Yehudi"

The previous post brought to the fore an issue that I would like to address. I apologize in advance for getting personal. 

I would like to preface by saying that nobody owes me ANYTHING. The world has given me much more than I have given it. There are many, many people to whom I am eternally indebted and grateful and have no way of paying them back. The list is too long to even think of. Nobody owes me very much because I have done VERY LITTLE to date [I hope to improve]. 

That being said....

The writing and research that is involved in writing these posts take up a tremendous amount of time and effort which is at the expense of other things that I have a burning desire to do. I enjoy it immensely but it exacts a price. You can ask my wife how much time I spend on the blog... I have often considered discontinuing it but have been discouraged from doing so. When I look at the side of the blog page I see that to date over 773 thousand times people have benefited from the blog. How can it be, I ask myself, that over 773,000 times [start counting, 1, 2, 3, etc. and you will see that it is a high number] people have benefited but barely anybody ever said a word?? It doesn't cost money to express appreciation. It is free. The blog is free [another reason to be appreciative:-)]. I don't write in order to garner appreciation. I do so because I have been told by people that it gives them chizuk and possibly helps make them better people and all of us are charged with the task of trying to help others materially and spiritually in any way we can. Nobody, as I said, owes me anything. But I still can't understand how so many people can benefit and not say a word. 

I post recorded shiurim. If you listen to them you notice that the majority are not given to any live group for which I am being paid but to the machine in front of me so that people ["sweetest friends"] can listen on line. I immensely enjoy it and am gratified that I can do it. Yet I wonder that of the hundreds of thousand of listeners to thousands of shiurim over the years I have received just about zero feedback. Not a question, answer, comment, clarification or just a plain old - "I learned a lot. Thanks." It would take precisely ten seconds to send a note yet it almost never, ever happens. 

I will take this a step further. I LOVE teaching Torah. I am presently unemployed [for reasons known only to my former employers, Hashem should bless them with success and they should never have the disgrace of being fired] but would love nothing more than to teach in a Yeshiva as I did for over twenty years. In those twenty plus years where I gave my soul to the boys and girls  - I have yet to receive a phone call from a parent saying "Thank you for teaching my child". Not ONE. A wonder. I may add that I was paid - starvation wages. 13,000 dollars a year at most of my PEAK YEARS. Enough to pay most of my rent and nothing more. A housewife and six children with only most of the rent and nothing left for food. You do the math. We are all still here THANKS G-D! [I have other good stories to add but I don't want to say lashon hara even without naming names]. I did receive about 4 phone calls - all asking me to do a favor on the parents behalf [such as convince their child to attend college. I am really a bad example for that....:-)].

Again - I LOVE what I do. It is a zchus. I also LOVE the students. I am in touch with EVERY SINGLE ONE [male or female] who wants to be. I am HAPPY to do this every day and every day thank Hashem for my good fortune. But can it be that no parent [and most students as well] has half a good word to say? I mean, I helped their child. Who does one love more than their child?! There are the parents of one or two boys [and a few different girls] who showed their gratitude in a very gracious and helpful way. They are tzadikim... [I don't like taking money because money corrupts a person and also grosses me out very often, but they wanted to give]. The parents of another boy once took me out to dinner in appreciation. But that is about it. I have had the merit to learn with THOUSANDS of kids. Are people that ungrateful? 

The answer is that people are WONDERFUL and WELL MEANING. They just don't think about it. I am writing to help people think....   

I think of all the mothers and wives. Amazing dedicated Jewish mothers and wives. Who prepare thousands of meals, do thousands of loads of laundry, attend to endless family related tasks, go through the travails of pregnancy and childbirth etc. etc. and the husbands complain and the kids complain. Sometimes, MAYBE the complaints are justified. But what about the gratitude??? She is not your maid or your slave but acts as one. With love and complete devotion. A wife fulfills her husbands most powerful needs. How can husbands and children be so ungrateful?? They aren't malicious. They just don't think about it. 

I think of all the fathers. How can women [as they often are] be so critical of their husbands. Their husbands feed them, clothe them, provide them with companionship, children etc. etc. They work 12 hours a day so that they can have the comforts of life. So that their kids can receive a Jewish education. Yes, it is his obligation but that doesn't mean that one need not be grateful. Imagine if a stranger would give you ten thousand dollars a month for ten years? How appreciative you would be. Why should a non-stranger like a husband not receive similar appreciation He doesn't just provide money - he gives so much more. Physically, emotionally and spiritually. And what about the children? A father made it possible for them to exist. That should be MORE than enough to necessitate tremendous gratitude. He paid for the child's education. We can only read because our fathers made sure that we learned that and many other critical skills. 

People have Shalom Bayis problems because they lack gratitude. That is not the ONLY factor but often a major one.  How many times does the average spouse express gratitude? I will bet that the level of Shalom Bayis in any given home is commensurate to the amount of appreciation shown.     

The Zohar Hakadosh says that not only will one be brought to judgment on everything bad that he said but also on everything GOOD he could have said but didn't.


I have been away from home for 3 weeks. The other day I received a call from a Chashuv Rov from Israel whom I know. He took the effort to find out my number and call me a number of times until he got through. What did he want?? He wouldn't call me just like that! He is busy. We are not related. I am not a wealthy supporter of his shul or yeshiva. OK, I will tell you what he wanted. He wanted ... hold on tight.... to see how I am doing. To find out what to daven for. That's it. Not a big deal but I don't know many other people [anybody?] who does such things. He wanted me to feel appreciated and ... remembered [it worked]. To be honest, I have come back after month long plus trips and almost nobody noticed or remarked on my absence.... Two years ago I had a baby girl [so did my wife - same day!! Coincidence min ha-shomayim!!!:-)]. This Rov was the only one to call and wish me mazel tov. Not a big deal - but nobody else did it.   

Sweetest friends, PLEASE, no "thank you" emails. I am going through a wonderfully challenging period in my life that is designed to make me a better person and would rather spend my time learning tshuvos of Rebbi Akiva Eiger than read emails saying "Thanks Rabbi Ehrman/ Al/ Reb Elchonon. You rock." Learning makes me feel much better and that is my task in this world. I don't listen to rock anyway. 

But, PLEASE, express gratitude to your parents, spouses, bosses [think of the tens of thousands who would love to have jobs but don't], children, friends, train conductors, waiters and waitresses, teachers, plumbers, sanitation men etc. etc. etc. 

And don't forget the One who gave and gives you EVERYTHING. 

A Jew is called a Yehudi because his or her essence is that he or she is THANKFUL - modeh. 

Bi-ahava rabba, 

Dancing to thank Hashem