The desire for appreciation seems to be one of our strongest human impulses. We instinctively crave being noticed and valued. School teachers are overwhelmed with joy when former students call to say, "I gave you a rough time back in 7th grade and you rode me real hard, but now I see it was worth it. I succeeded because of you!"

What says Torah of this matter?

Would you assist someone even if it meant forfeiting your own achievement?Should you help someone even if they will never thank you—or even recognize your beneficence? What if they will resent your help—think pulling the bottle away from a drunk? That question is easy. Ethics of Our Fathers in Chapter 1 instructs: "Do not be a servant who serves his master for the sake of reward [be that a material or a social/emotional reward]."

There's a tougher question: Would you assist someone else even if it will mean forfeiting your own achievement? Would you use your study time to tutor a weaker student and diminish your own grade even if the other student won't appreciate it? Here's a much harder one: Would you help someone else if you weren't even sure that G‑d would appreciate it?

Queen Esther, the heroine of the story of Purim, is instructed by Mordechai to approach King Ahasuerus to plead on behalf of her people. Esther resists and explains that no one, not even she, may approach the King (not much of a marriage there!).

Mordechai insists, and Esther acquiesces, declaring: "If I am lost, I am lost" (Esther 4:16).

The Talmud explains Esther's apparently redundant expression as her willingness to expose herself to two distinct risks:

On the human plane, approaching the tyrant put her in mortal peril. The earlier story of Queen Vashti's breech of protocol that resulted in her execution illustrates Ahasuerus' method of dealing with a disobedient wife.

Yet death isn't the worst that could happen. After all, Esther is a prisoner to a barbarian, not much of a life to be sure. What really scared her was that Ahasuerus would be happy to see her and welcome her into his chamber. Now Esther would be compromised.

Until this point she had maintained her spiritual virtue, clinging to the reality that she was a victim, not a willing participant in this so-called "marriage." This time, though, she would be initiating her interaction with Ahasuerus, approaching willingly, thus forfeiting her innocence, and along with that, possibly, G‑d's approval and appreciation.

This time, though, she would be initiating her interaction with AhasuerusDespite the danger, she went, and the rest is history. Ahasuerus allowed her in and acquiesced to her plea, and ultimately the genocide of our entire people was prevented.

Perhaps this was the genuine heroism: Esther's readiness to rescue her people even if it meant surrendering Divine acknowledgement.

If the fate of an entire people; or even just one person, is at risk, we must be ready to surrender not only our material comforts to rescue him; we must be ready to give up our spiritual rewards as well.

Now before you go running out to save the world at the risk of G‑d's disapproval, make sure you consult with someone like Mordechai: a wholly righteous person, a member of the Sanhedrin, and a leader of the Jewish people. Like a radical medical procedure, such actions should be undertaken only under the guidance of experts. And of course the rescue of an entire people colors the equation as well. The point here is limited to understanding how the anticipation of appreciation should or shouldn't influence our decision making.

So should we be appreciative? Of course. Should we expect to be appreciated? Yes, again. Should we orchestrate our behavior to receive appreciation? No! That appreciation thing can be addictive. A warm thank-you can be so rewarding, and we are so desirous of it, that if we are not careful, we start seeking it out as an end in and of itself. We replace "Is this the right thing to do?" with "Will this get me a pat on the back?" and when the one showing the appreciation is less than upright, we are heading into a world of hurt.

So the next time you find yourself faced with the opportunity to do someone a favor and that little voice says, "He doesn't even appreciate what I do for him," don't listen and do it anyway. And if another voice whispers, "One day he'll thank you," don't listen and do it anyway.