This Time, Let me Express Gratitude to Hashem
הרב זכריה טובי
When Leah gave birth to her fourth son, Yehuda, she said: "This time, let me express gratitude to Hashem." (Bereishit 29:35) Chazal comment (Berachot 7b):
R. Yochanan said in the name of R. Shimon b. Yochai: From the day that G-d created His world, no one expressed gratitude to G-d, until Leah came and did so, as it says, "This time, let me express gratitude to Hashem."
This statement requires explanation, since Adam Harishon also expressed gratitude to G-d, as it says in Yalkut Shimoni (Tehillim #843) that Adam said, "A psalm, a song for the Sabbath day. It is good to thank Hashem." (Tehillim 92:1-2) We also find that Malki-Tzedek, king of Shalem, said: "Blessed be G-d, the Most High, Who has delivered your foes into your hand." (Bereishit 14:20) What is special about the gratitude of Leah, that it is considered as if there was no one who thanked G-d before her, when we know that two people preceded her?
Chazal teach that there was special expertise in Leah's gratitude. It says in Bereishit Rabbah (ch. 71):
Leah grasped the spindle (expertise) of gratitude, and grateful people descended from her. Yehuda - "Yehuda recognized and said, 'She is more correct than I.'" David said: "Give thanks to Hashem, for He is good, for his kindness endures forever." Daniel said: "To You, the G-d of my ancestors, I thank and praise you."
We see that Leah's gratitude was inculcated in all the generations that descended from the tribe of Yehuda. Therefore, Chazal defined it as "spindle of gratitude," a special profession that goes through all the generations of Yehuda. What, then, is special in the gratitude of Yehuda, David, and Daniel more than other gratitude in Tanach? The Ktav Sofer explains this based on the Gemara: "One who reads the Hallel every day is blaspheming." (Shabbat 118b) Why is this so? The Ktav Sofer answers that Hallel is said for miracles that are supernatural, such as the miracles of the Exodus, and therefore Hallel is said only at special times. In contrast, every day a person needs to thank Hashem: "For Your miracles that are everyday with us, and for Your wonders that are at every moment." This refers to our very existence, as the Midrash says: "All souls (neshema) should praise G-d." (Tehillim 150:6) - for each and every breath (neshima) that a person breathes he needs to thank G-d. (Bereishit Rabbah 14:9) If a person says Hallel every day, he only praises G-d for the miracles that are extraordinary, and it is as if he rejecting the constant good of Hashem in each and every day.
This is the special quality of Leah's gratefulness, "This time, let me express gratitude to Hashem" - without any specific reason, but for the birth itself. Even though this is the fourth birth, and it has turned already into something routine, Leah says: "This time, let me express gratitude to Hashem" - even though it is something natural. This is the spindle of gratitude that was inculcated in Leah's descendents. Yehuda said: "She is more correct than I." This is acknowledgement of the truth, not gratitude for kindness that G-d does with him, but recognition of the truth of G-d's existence and His good. David says: "Give thanks to Hashem, for He is good, for his kindness endures forever" - G-d's constant and steady kindness towards the Creation. Daniel also says: "To You, the G-d of my ancestors I thank and praise you," for in the expression of thanks, there is recognition of the G-d of his ancestors."
When the first three sons of Leah were born, she named them and expressed gratitude for the particular, personal kindness that G-d did to her, as it says: "Reuven - "Because Hashem has discerned my humiliation, for now my husband will love me." (Bereishit 29:32); Shimon - Because Hashem has heard that I am unloved." Levi - This time my husband will become attached to me for I have borne him three children."
However, after three times, Leah was already established with children, and the issue turned routine with her. Therefore, the fourth time, when she gave birth to Yehuda, she said, "This time, I will express gratitude to Hashem - plain gratitude for something common, which is not outstanding. We see a clue to this in the verse: It does not say 'la'Hashem' (to Hashem), but rather 'et Hashem' (of Hashem) because here there is acknowledgement of G-d's existence in the world. "Who renews every day, constantly the work of Creation." (Yotzer Ohr) This is not gratitude for the past, but rather of the present. This is not a one-time gratitude, but a constant, daily one, that also the nature that exists in the world is a miracle. This is the true expression of gratitude that we need to learn from our matriarch Leah, and to thank G-d for the miracles and wonders that are every moment and hour.
קוד השיעור: 3607
(Translated by Rav Meir Orlian)