Newfound Gratitude

It has become an all too familiar setting as I get ready to put on my tefillin at the dining room table. I’m about to begin my 151st tefillah at home. Something I myself and anyone else could never dream would happen.

One must ask oneself, what’s the takeaway from this new reality? In my humble view I see it as two words: hakaras hatov. Since I have become the Rav, gabbai, baal korei, and baal tefillah, I have a newfound respect and appreciation for all those people. So much goes into making a shul run. We used to go to shul and take it for granted. It was a given that someone will daven for the amud and have a nice song ready to go on Shabbos. It was expected that on a Monday morning the 7 o’clock minyan will start and end exactly on schedule. An email with all the zmanim for Yom Tov is sent without your asking for it, and there’s lots more. But all these things don’t just happen on their own.

How often do we thank those who put in hours of their personal time to make sure your shul runs properly? That bills get paid, that there’s hot water and milk for your coffee all the time; that the shul gets cleaned, that there is heating or air conditioning when needed? The small things add up. Just think about it and you’ll start seeing.

I am not a shul volunteer venting about not being appreciated. I’m just someone who’s starting to run out of songs to sing for Lecha Dodi and Keil Adon. I’m just someone who has read the parashah for six weeks and gets an idea of what it takes to be a baal korei, especially on weeks with two parshiyos. I’m just someone who would be more than happy to hear some nice words from the Rav without rolling my eyes.

As I say the words, “Ashreinu k’she’anu mashkimim … How fortunate are we to begin and end each day in batei knessiyos and batei medrash.” … I think to myself, “When will this happen again?”

Let’s make it a thing to thank those who make things happen in our shuls. Even a Maariv during the week and even if he is a chiyuv, he still deserves a thank-you. Let’s storm the heavens and beg Hashem to bring Moshiach. Then the Kohanim and Leviim will be the ones we say thank-you to.

Sruli Steinberg