Lessons from Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsh - and an 11 year old: Gratitude and respect

Gratitude with sensitivity to humans, gratitude even to the inanimate. Respect for oneself and respect for one's past.

Sivan Rahav-Meir ,

Sivan Rahav-Meir
Sivan Rahav-Meir
Eyal ben Ayish

Who said children are just bored during the corona? 11-year-old Itai Yom Tov from Rishon LeZion began to publish little commentaries on the weekly Torah portion. Here's a sample of his weekly message:

"In the Va'eira Torah portion, the ten plagues begin and the first is the plague of blood. God tells Moshe to tell Aaron to take his staff and strike the Nile River, in order that the water will turn to blood. Why does Moshe tell Aaron to do this? Why didn't God tell Moshe to do this himself? Our sages explain that this was because the Nile protected Moshe when he was a baby floating in a basket. If Moshe would strike the Nile, this would show ingratitude.

When we are ungrateful, we hurt ourselves on the inside. Even not showing ingratitude to something that's not alive, like the Nile, is an insult that will damage our soul.

And if we are so sensitive about showing gratitude to something that's not alive, how much more should we be caring about showing gratitude to people, especially in the time of the corona. We need to find those who deserve thanks. We children need to make sure we say thank you to parents, teachers, and to everyone else who helps us during the lockdowns. So that we should not be ungrateful."

Respect your past – and gain respect

If you do not respect yourself, others will not respect you either. This principle holds true as a spouse, as a parent, and as a nation. Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch passed away 132 years ago this past week. Living in Germany in the late 1800's, he had to contend with many Jews who abandoned and belittled their tradition and culture and wanted to assimilate into the German culture that they considered more enlightened than theirs. Here are some of Rav Hirsch's penetrating words on this subject:

"*In the same measure that you respect your past and the holy figures from your history, the nations of the world will respect you. It will likely happen that for one reason or another, you may gain more or less sympathy from the nations, but they will always respect you if you respect yourself. However, if you belittle your past and do not honor your ancestors' graves and do not respect your Holy Temple and do not try to acquire proper knowledge of your Torah – how can you expect other nations to respect you? Many delights will come to you at the price of denying the Torah, but do not expect respect."*

• Translation by Yehoshua Siskin



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