"Thank you," I said. "No, thank You," he responded. I heard Cantor Gustav Goldberger sing "Modim," our Gratitude prayer with such sweetness that I was moved to tears. He sang with an intensity that inspired me to become more consistent in thanking God. I couldn't stop thanking him the entire Shabbat, and he responded to each thank you with the thank you that one expresses to someone who appreciates his work; the soloist responding to applause, an actor to adulation, or a parent to a thoughtful expression of a child's gratitude. Real gratitude is infectious. There are some "thank you"s that are so real and beautiful that the only appropriate response is another.
I once asked my father zt"l how to properly thank him for all that he taught me. "There are no words that can express the intensity of my gratitude; even to say how much I need to tell you how I feel." He was silent for a moment, and then said, "Thank you!" He paused again, and said, "Everything you teach is an expression of that gratitude." I needed his guidance in thanking him. His response was his way of thanking me for saying thank you.
I desire God's direction in thanking Him. I want to express my gratitude with such beauty and consideration that He would respond, "Thank you!" God provides direction and responds to our expressions of gratitude with the Thanksgiving Offering:
We derive the laws of Thanksgiving from Psalm 107, King David's hymn of gratitude for all the times that God saved his life. David expressed his intense gratitude with words that resonate three thousand years later, and yet, his words did not fulfill his obligation. He still had to bring an Offering. God didn't need the offering. David needed it. The Offering is God's way of instructing us in how to express our gratitude; His way of saying, "Thank You!"
The Offering must be shared with many people: Real gratitude is infectious. God is expressing His "Thank You," by affording us to inspire others with our gratitude, and the infectious cycle continues.
One of the most popular parts of the Pesach Seder is singing Dayeinu, "How many good steps has God bestowed upon us," steps to say, "thank you!" The entire Seder is God helping us express our gratitude; it's His way of saying, "Thank you for saying thank You." We express more profound gratitude each year. My Dayeinu of this year is different from that of a year ago. The Seder is the ever new song, the Shirah Chadashah, "We will recite a new song before God!" that concludes the story-telling. It's the song that never ends. We are different people than we were last Pesach.
The Thanksgiving Offering teaches us that Pesach and many Mitzvot are God's way of guiding us in expressing our gratitude to Him; they are His way of saying, "Thank You!"
"You are most welcome!"
Rabbi Simcha L. Weinberg
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