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"And Hashem saw all that He had made, and behold it was very good; and there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day" (Bereishis 1:31).
Although, people are usually born as babies, Adam and Chaveh were created as full grown man and woman, just as Hashem created the animals and growing things in their advanced stages. One can easily imagine how awed these mature beings were at the entire creation. Every moment they recognized Hashem's wonders in heaven and earth. But most of all, they must have marveled at how their own intricate system, their complicated anatomy, works. They certainly must have felt the meaning of those poignant words we say in Nishmas: "Were our mouth as full of song as the sea, and our tongue as full of joyous song as its multitude of waves, and our lips as full of praise as the breadth of the heavens, and our eyes as brilliant as the sun and the moon, and our hands as outspread as eagles of the sky and our feet as swift as hinds - we still could not thank You sufficiently, Hashem our G-d and G-d of our forefathers, and to bless Your Name for even one of the thousand thousand, thousands of thousands and myriad myriads of favors that You performed for our ancestors and for us."
The problem is that we have gotten used to all of the gifts which Hashem has provided us with and we take them for granted. We do not thank Him for them, and if we do recite a prayer which the Sages composed for us to say, we repeat it by rote. This problem is nothing new. Even the great rabbis suffered from this common aspect of human behavior. The difference is, though, that they dealt with the dilemma while we are content to leave things as they are.
I once heard a fantastic story, I don't remember from whom (perhaps from my Rebby, Reb Ya'akov Kaminetsky zt"l).
Rabbi Ya'akov ben Asher (1269-1343), author of the Tur, the codified Books of Halacha (Jewish Law), was a very poor man. In the Laws of Shabbos (Orach Chaim 242), when he discusses whether or not a pauper should borrow money for Shabbos expenses, he uses himself as an example. His father, the Rosh (Rabbi Asher ben Yechiel, 1250-1327), wanted to give him money but he refused to accept a gift from him. One day, the Rosh decided that he would trick his son into receiving the well needed funds. He put a large sum of money into an envelope and placed it on the road which he knew his son walks down every morning on the way to the Synagogue. He would surely see it and pick it up, he thought. Since it had no identifiable signs, Reb Ya'akov would be allowed to keep it for himself and his family.
Later that day, the Rosh visited his son, expecting to hear a tale about the fantastic "Hashgachah" (Providence) which provided him with help at a time that he needed it so badly. Strangely, though, Reb Ya'akov did not say a word. His father could not contain himself and asked his son if he had found something on the way to shul that morning. The Tur explained to his father that he could never find anything on the way to morning prayers because he goes the entire way from home to the synagogue blindfolded! When the Rosh asked his son the reason for his behavior, he explained that one of the prayers we say every morning is, "Blessed are You…Who gives sight to the blind," by means of which we thank Hashem for giving us healthy eyes to see with. Since we usually take our eyesight for granted, we don't really recite the blessing with much meaning and concentration. Therefore, Reb Ya'akov would go from his home to shul as a blind man, groping his way to get there safely, so that when he would remove the covering, he would sincerely appreciate his ability to see and would recite the blessing properly, from the depths of his heart.
This remarkable story should teach us to seek our own ways of appreciating everything Hashem created for us and to thank Him for them constantly. May we be privileged to continue to receive His many favors and value them and use them properly to serve Him, Amen.
Shema Yisrael Torah Network