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Thank G-d!

Thank G-d!

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I get around a fair bit visiting the local Jewish residents and businesses. I have grown to enjoy meeting people, shmoozing with them and discovering their Jewish needs. Some of our most successful and enduring programs were first suggested to me by total strangers, and many of these people have since become fast friends.

After all who wouldn't appreciate being cold-called on by a rabbi? Even if people don't exactly relish being interrupted at work or during the evening TV broadcast, they always seem affable enough and ready to invite me in for a chat.

Upon meeting a rabbi, Jews enjoy showing off their knowledge of JudaismPeople show you pictures of their family and pets (though not necessarily in that order). They share their grandmother's recipe for gefilte fish and confide in you the most intimate and personal details about their medical operations. They describe why they hated Hebrew School as children, and always, always want to know "how did you find out I lived/worked here?" Many of them are happy to receive an invitation to a Shabbat meal or class, and I've found that within the hearts of every Jew I meet, even those who come off most uninterested and uninvolved, there beats a sense of love for Israel and a pride in their ancestry.

Above all, I've found that Jews, upon meeting a rabbi for the first time, enjoy showing off their knowledge of Judaism, especially Jewish jokes and language skills.

What do you reckon the most well known Jewish expression is? Sure, the non-Jews know "Shalom," and the old people enjoy "zai gezunt." But in my experience, when Jews want to demonstrate some knowledge or commitment to Judaism, they trot out "Baruch Hashem" – "Thank G‑d!"

And thank G‑d for that. The Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the Chassidic movement, would travel the countryside asking people about their life, all in an effort to elicit a "Baruch Hashem," or other words of praise directed at our Creator. He used to describe thanking G‑d as "paying G‑d His dues," or "giving Him His livelihood."

G‑d provides us with life, happiness and health, and the least we can do is reciprocate with expressions of gratitude and blessing. Not because G‑d needs our paltry words of praise, any more than parents need their children to express thanks for all their sacrifices, but because we, the recipients, feel the need to acknowledge G‑d's constant presence in our lives.

Parents don't just give birth and walk away. They spend years catering to every need of their pampered darlings. So, too, G‑d is not just some big guy hanging out in the sky playing with the angels, but He is responsible for every facet of our daily lives.

Interestingly, the "mundane" fruits of the fifth year have a greater level of sanctityMany of us suffer from an immature understanding of spirituality; believing that G‑d and Judaism belong in the synagogue, while other values reign in the boardroom and bedroom. Judaism rejects that attitude. If anything, it is more important to recognize and acknowledge G‑d's blessings and presence when at work than in synagogue.

The Book of Leviticus describes the laws newly planted trees. Just like the first few years of a child's life are sacrosanct, devoted to education and preparation for life; the Torah commands us to refrain from eating the fruits of a tree's first three years. The fruit that grows during the fourth year is treated with sanctity; in Biblical times it was transported to Jerusalem and consumed there. From the fifth year on, the fruit is free for us to enjoy.

Interestingly, according to the kabbalah, the "mundane" fruits of the fifth year and on have a greater level of sanctity than even the fourth year fruit.

Herein the life lesson: spirituality is not defined by abstinence or denial of physicality. Nor is it restricted to holy cities or special places. When a Jew recognizes and reflects on his Creator while at home or at play, he is engaged in a spiritual quest.

Baruch Hashem we're alive, Baruch Hashem for my family, Baruch Hashem for our community, and thank G‑d for everything.

Rabbi Elisha Greenbaum is spiritual leader of Moorabbin Hebrew Congregation and co-director of L’Chaim Chabad in Moorabbin, Victoria, Australia.
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Antonie Lintvelt South Africa September 22, 2016

Thank you I thank G-d that He used you to explain Baruch Hashem so well. I want to ask though, do you have to be Jewish to say it? Reply

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