The Power of Gratitude

This week’s Torah Portion Ekev (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25 ) reminds us of the power and importance of gratitude.

Gratitude is in large part about recognizing where your blessings truly come from.

Moses warned:

“When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, do not exalt yourself, forgetting the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery … Do not say to yourself, ‘My power and the might of my own hand have gained me this wealth.’ (Deut. 8:11-17)

As Rabbi Sack’s relates:

“The worst thing that could happen to them, warned Moses, would be that they forgot how they came to the land, how God had promised it to their ancestors, and had taken them from slavery to freedom, sustaining them during the forty years in the wilderness. This was a revolutionary idea: that the nation’s history be engraved on people’s souls, that it was to be re-enacted in the annual cycle of festivals, and that the nation, as a nation, should never attribute its achievements to itself – “my power and the might of my own hand” – but should always ascribe its victories, indeed its very existence, to something higher than itself: to God. This is a dominant theme of Deuteronomy, and it echoes throughout the book time and again.[1]

As I wrote only a few months ago my wife and I have experienced our own escape to freedom (from tyranny and oppression) –

And every day (so far, praise Yah), I look around at my “Garden of Eden’ and am still stunned in the power of the Almighty and his great blessing to us. I never dreamed of the life I am now living – it is beyond my dreams – so fortunately gratitude is still coming easily to me. May it remain so!

There has been a great deal of research in gratitude over the years and again quoting Sacks:

“… we now know of the multiple effects of developing an attitude of gratitude. It improves physical health and immunity against disease. Grateful people are more likely to take regular exercise and go for regular medical check-ups.

Thankfulness reduces toxic emotions such as resentment, frustration and regret and makes depression less likely. It helps people avoid over-reacting to negative experiences by seeking revenge. It even tends to make people sleep better. It enhances self-respect, making it less likely that you will envy others for their achievements or success. Grateful people tend to have better relationships. Saying “thank you” enhances friendships and elicits better performance from employees. It is also a major factor in strengthening resilience.

One study of Vietnam War Veterans found that those with higher levels of gratitude suffered lower incidence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Remembering the many things we have to be thankful for helps us survive painful experiences, from losing a job to bereavement.  (mostly from ‘Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life’ at )”

In our case I lost my job (and my wife had already had to retire due to il-health) and so then we also lost our home. But while we went through a stressful time, the Almighty produced a miracle and blessed us enormously such that these painful experiences seem to be more a number of blessings as our life took a new direction and opened up new vistas of splendour!

Again, HaShem be praised and exalted!!