“And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth.”
- Psalm 119:43 , JPS 1917 Tanach
An acknowledgment of my own lack of gratitude compels me to look at my feelings that are often negative to some degree, even when the positive in my life seems to abound. Perhaps, this is notable in consideration of the mixture of good and bad that persists in life, ever since Adam and Chava (Eve) ate from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. There is an admixture of both positive and negative qualities found in every person, as well as every situation, when examined closely. Such is the fate of humankind, and the weight that the soul bears in this life.
My lack of gratitude in general, colors my perspective in particular. Were I capable of speaking the truth, without taint, I might rejoice more in my circumstances. Perhaps, I would be less cynical; my defenses might be let down a little bit; and, my soul could prosper more under G-d’s instruction . Reflecting on Torah, it becomes clear to me that B’nei Yisrael (the Children of Israel) did not always appreciate G-d’s provision for them, during the forty years of wandering in the desert. When G-d reproached the people for their lack of gratitude, He brought an awareness to their faulty thinking.
On the one hand, I take too much for granted in my life; I do not truly appreciate what I have. On the other hand, when I seem to have less in my life, I notice a feeling of discontentment. Whether I perceive my condition as positive or negative, all too often depends on my subjective feelings. How to transcend this entanglement escapes me. Yet, another Biblical example comes to mind: “The L-RD gave, and the L-RD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the L-RD” (Job 1:21). Despite his circumstances, Job still praised G-d.
Amongst observant Jews, when asked, “how are you,” we respond, “Baruch H’Shem,” meaning “Praise G-d.” The implication is that whatever the circumstances may be, I accept this as the ratzon (will) of H’Shem. As much as I use this all-encompassing phrase, I can not always say so in earnst. At least, if I pause, before saying, “Baruch H’Shem,” I may become more sincere, by arriving at a place somewhere between my mind and heart. The reconciliation of my feelings with the truth of scripture may take time; yet, this is a journey well worth the investment of time and effort.