These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

[Alumni Guest Post] Thoughts on Gratitude by Aryeh Ben David

Posted on February 16, 2013 by The Director of Digital Media

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Originally posted on Ayeka Blog
By Aryeh Ben David (Year ’80)

gtA few years ago a colleague, Rabbi Gordon Tucker, told me the most depressing observation about parenting. He said, “You’re only as happy as your least happy kid.”

What?! That’s not fair at all.

We have six kids. If 5 are happy and one is going through a hard time, then shouldn’t I be 5/6 happy? Or even better – can’t I be as happy as the happiest kid we have?

But he was very insightful and I have found out that there is a lot of truth in his very demoralizing comment.

Recently I gave a session on gratitude to our facilitators. I asked them to write 3 things for which they were consciously very grateful. Then to write 3 things that they were grateful for, but often just took them for granted. Then I asked them to write about 3 things in their lives for which they were NOT grateful.

Everyone wrote. Then we learned beautiful sources from Rav Kook and Rav Dessler.

Then at the end I asked them to write one more time. This time – to take the thing they were NOT grateful for and reframe it – to try and find some way they can also be grateful for the difficult things in their life – things like challenging family members, debt, stress of deadlines, health issues, and more.

Everyone wrote. I told them that we would not share how they had reframed their difficult challenge because it was probably very personal.

To my surprise, everyone wanted to share. Some through tears and some with smiles, everyone reframed. A week later, they tell me it is still resonating.

We’re only as grateful as the least grateful part of our lives.

The word – Jew – means “one who is grateful”. It’s an ongoing challenge for all of us to become more Jew-ish.