Several weeks ago, I received a memorable e‑mail. It was from someone who years ago had attended the same school as I. We were never particularly close, and I had completely lost touch with her. She had just read my most recent book and wanted to thank me for the inspiration. She wrote that over the years she had read many of my articles and books, but had never bothered to write. But she had just read a story that I wrote about the importance of feedback, and immediately was motivated to fire off an e‑mail to tell me how touched she was by my writing. Of course, I reciprocated and sincerely told her how much her thanks meant to me.
We all need feedback. Whether it is in our workplace or in our home life. Whether we are just doing our job or we are going well beyond our sense of duty. Whether what we do is motivated by a sense of obligation or an inner fire of love.
We all need to be told, at least occasionally, that someone notices what we are doing and appreciates it. That we are valued and that our deeds are important.
The more often we are given feedback and the better the compliment, the more inclined we will be to try even harder and do even better; whereas the fewer kind words we hear, the more prone we will be to slack off. After all, why bother if no one even cares?
Hopefully, throughout the year we acknowledge the meaningful people in our lives and thank them for all they do and for who they are. But special occasions, like birthdays, anniversaries, or after a particularly difficult ordeal or an especially happy celebration, are times especially conducive to reflecting and expressing how important the other individual is to you.
So, how about G‑d? Does He need our feedback?
On many occasions—hopefully several times a day—we acknowledge and thank G‑d for the abundance of good He showers on us. Though G‑d is above any “need,” and certainly doesn’t need our “feedback,” He does have a want—the desire to have a relationship with us. A relationship, even the most exalted one, is by definition reciprocal and goes in both directions. As our sages state, there is no king without a nation accepting him. Unlike a tyrant who forces himself over his subordinates, a king or ruler—and G‑d—as defined by the Torah has a relationship over those whom he governs.
Rosh Hashanah is the time of year when we reaccept G‑d’s rulership. It is our chance to stop, reflect and take notice. The Rosh Hashanah prayers are replete with us telling G‑d how much we seek His presence in our lives.
Because feedback is something we all appreciate.