|Now available on Amazon.com|
I once heard a Torah teacher speak about what animates her teaching. She described how, whenever she learns something new, she can't wait to share that new insight with others.
That's pretty much why I just published a Jewish gratitude journal: 100 Days of Thanking Hashem: Build Your Spiritual Capacity for Gratitude, One Day At A Time
Once I discovered the spiritual tool of gratitude, I wanted to share it with as many people as possible. It's based on Jewish sources, accessible to absolutely everyone, regardless of background, and is incredibly life-enhancing.
On a spiritual level, gratitude helps us practice now what it will mean to see all the good - to see God’s Hand in everything. It’s a concrete way we can strengthen our spiritual muscles NOW while we wait for Moshiach (the Jewish messiah).
The reality is that Hashem performs kindnesses for us all day long. When we take time to notice them and say thank you, it draws us closer to God.
There are also proven psychological benefits to gratitude. The regular expression of gratitude helps a person feel more positively inclined towards others. It can also help relieve stress by refocusing your attention on the good things in your life.
In Devarim (Deuteronomy) 10:12, Moshe (Moses) tells the Jewish people:
And now, O Israel, what does the Lord, your God, demand of you? Only to fear the Lord, your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, and to worship the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul,
"What (mah) does God ask of you?" The Talmud (Menachot 43b) explains that the word mahמה can be read as me'ah מאה, meaning 100. In other words, God obligates us to recite (at least) 100 blessings every day (Orach Chaim 46:3).
On a typical weekday, a person who wears tzizit, tallit and tefillin (by which I mostly mean an Orthodox man) can come close to 100 blessings, just from praying the three daily services.
But that didn’t apply to me.
I decided that, I may not be able to recite 100 blessings a day, but I can certainly express gratitude to Hashem 100 times a day.
It's basic human nature that most of us get caught up in what we don’t have, instead of being grateful for what we have already received. I wanted to focus on saying thank you to Hashem 100 times a day.
When you ask yourself what you're grateful for, you'll likely think of the big things first (e.g. your family, your health, etc.). But when you need to come up with 100 gratitudes at a time, you really have to dig deeper (e.g. sweatshirts that help keep me warm in the winter, floating on my back in the pool, sweet white wine, the long-awaited check that finally arrived, etc.)
I developed 100 Days of Thanking Hashem to share what I've discovered. It’s filled with gratitude prompts - things to consider that will help you complete your daily list of gratitudes (e.g., What disease don’t you have? What do you own that makes your life easier? What pleasant surprise did you experience today?), quotes from Jewish and non-Jewish thinkers about the power of gratitude and Biblical verses about the importance of being grateful.
This uniquely formatted journal allows you to start slowly and build a foundation of gratitude. On Day 1, you write down one thing you’re grateful for. On Day 2, you list two things you’re grateful for, and so on until Day 100. It’s based on the idea of building your gratitude muscle, one day at a time.
When Leah, the first wife of Yaakov (Jacob), gave birth to her fourth son, she named him Yehuda. The name Yehuda is derived from the Hebrew verb l’hodot, which means to thank.
The Jewish people are referred to in Hebrew as Yehudim. In a fundamental way, to be a Jew means to be grateful. The trait is embedded in our very name.
At the same time, this gratitude journal is completely appropriate for anyone, Jew or non-Jew, religious or not, who wants to develop the habit of noticing all the blessings in their lives and expressing appreciation for them.
Just a few days ago, I got an email from one of the first people, a woman from the UK, who bought 100 Days of Thanking Hashem. She wrote: "Dear Rivkah, I just want to say thank you for your book, 100 days of thanking HaShem. I’m on my 6th day and it’s already changing my life!"
Her expression of gratitude has now become one of my 100, thus proving that when you begin noticing and openly expressing gratitude for Hashem's many kindnesses to you, you can even impact the gratitude level of others.