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The kabbalists explain that there are three ways to connect and draw Light from righteous souls who have left this world: visiting their resting place, reading from their words of wisdom, or reading stories about them. With each story read, we not only draw from the Light that these righteous souls revealed but also the gift of the lesson taught by that kabbalist.
Every Friday night, Rav Baruch of Mezhibuz, the grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, would say a special prayer. After singing to welcome the angels of Shabbat and their blessings, he would go over his entire week and give thanks to all that the Creator had given him. He would awaken an appreciation for every special moment that had happened throughout the last seven days, and afterwards, he would always add this sentence:
“Master of the World, I am thankful for all that you’ve done for me and all that you will do for me in the future.”
His students share that one Friday night in the middle of winter, after saying this sentence, he started crying, tears nearly freezing on his face.
They asked why he was crying, to which he answered, “I asked myself, ‘why do I need to say thanks now for the good the Creator will give me in the future? When the time comes, I will express my appreciation in that moment!’ Then I realized that maybe when the time will come, I will not be in a space to even recognize the Creator in my life. So, I say thanks now instead.”
“But that was a beautiful lesson, why did you cry after realizing that?”
“I cried,” Rav Baruch of Mezhibuz answered, “because it means there is still a possibility that a day will come when I might lose all my appreciation to the Creator.”
Even when we recognize beauty and goodness and appreciate life’s marvels, we still need to make space and appreciate the Creator’s hand in allowing us to experience it. To have appreciation that our eyes can see a stunning sunset and that our nose can smell scents that remind us of dreams and of Eden. And at the forefront of all those things: that we even have the awareness and ability to express our appreciation to the Creator, because even that isn’t for granted.
May the merit of Rav Baruch of Mezhibuz awaken within us a deeper and deeper appreciation for everything in our life.