Appreciating Hashem’s kindness brings us more blessing. Rav Avigdor Miller, zt”l, would stress that we must appreciate not only the big things in life, but also the simple, everyday conveniences that we enjoy.
I was driving home on a cold winter night at about 10pm, and I noticed a store that was still open and crowded with people. As I came closer I realized it was a laundromat. The place was packed with people waiting as their laundry was wash and dried. I thought to myself how fortunate I am that I have a washer and dryer at home, so that I don’t have to go out into the cold shlepping heavy bags of laundry. We have so much blessing in our lives that we at times fail to recognize. A person feels a chill in the air, he presses a button on the thermostat, and within minutes he’s comfortable. There are so many of us who are dissatisfied with their living conditions, wishing they had a larger home, without appreciating how good their home is. Sometimes as I drive through other neighborhoods I notice the very small apartments often situated on top of the stores. I am filled with gratitude that I do not have such accommodations.
Truly great people consistently say “thank you.” In the Amidah, many of us pray at great length when asking for health, livelihood, success, and our other needs. But one section that is often shortchanged is Modim, toward the end of the Amidah, in which we thank Hashem for all we have been given.
A student approached his Rabbi and asked why it is that the Rabbi’s Amidah recitation is always so much longer than his.
“I make a point of praying slowly and with concentration,” the student said, “but every time, I finish well before you. Why does your Amidah prayer take so long?”
“Simple,” the Rabbi answered. “Before I begin Modim, I first think about the blessings in my life. I think about each and every one of my children and grandchildren, my house, my parnassah, my Torah learning, and so on. I think to myself, Hashem, You have given me so much! Only after I finish thinking of all this do I proceed to bow and recite Modim.”
Reciting the Modim prayer is of paramount importance. The Daat Zekeinim writes (Devarim 10:12) that if one recites Modim properly, his recitation is considered equivalent to reciting one hundred berachot, as the numerical value of the word modim is 100.
A convention was once held in a certain hotel in Europe, with many prominent Rabbis in attendance. One of the participants was outside one of the hotel rooms at night and heard a guest talking to Hashem: “Hashem, thank You so much for my health. Hashem, thank You so much for my wife. Hashem, thank You for enabling me to pay my bills. Hashem, thank You for giving me intelligence.” This guest went on and on, listing all his blessings in life for which he was grateful. The next morning, this participant went to the front desk to ask who had stayed in Room 108 the previous night. It turned out that this was the room of the Chafetz Chaim. Before going to sleep each night, the Chafetz Chaim would express his gratitude to Hashem for all his blessings.
Appreciation is the key to happiness in life. When we appreciate all we have, we will be able to serve Hashem with joy, and thus allow Him to shower us with even greater blessings.