Dear Rabbi,

On the one hand, I can see gratitude as a sign of faith, as it means that we acknowledge the involvement of G‑d in our lives. But is faith required in order to be a grateful person? Don’t all decent people say “please” and “thank you”?


There’s a subtle yet profound difference between the basic gratitude that any decent human being offers and the inspired gratitude of the person of faith. The difference is in which comes first—the “please” or the “thank you.”

Every decent person will say “please” when making a request and “thank you” when their request is granted. That’s not a sign of great virtue, just simple decency.

Faith and spirituality challenge us to first say “thank you” and then say “please.”

We all begin our day with “prayers” and hopes for a successful day. This doesn’t necessarily make me a good person.

Which state in the US has the most prayer? Nevada. At each slot machine there’s someone praying for a win….

The person of faith begins the day with loads of thanks, expressing gratitude for all the wonderful blessings already granted. Only afterwards will this person also request additional blessings. In fact, the Jewish prayer book opens with many pages of gratitude before any requests are made.

There’s a story of a fellow who was running late to a business meeting in downtown Brooklyn, and was having trouble finding a parking spot. The meeting was very important to him and he didn’t want to be late. After circling the block seven times, he offered G‑d a deal: “Find me a spot and I’ll begin to observe the Sabbath… I promise!” At that very moment a car pulled out immediately in front of him. Turning heavenward he said: “Not to worry, I managed on my own.”

Everyone asks for blessings. The inspired person doesn’t take for granted the blessings he or she already has.

Now, that’s virtue.

Why doesn’t the person of faith take blessings for granted?

True faith is not merely the belief that the world has a Creator we call “G‑d.” Faith is the belief that the Creator is intimately involved in my life in real-time, on a moment-to-moment basis.

G‑d is not merely a “Heavenly hand” that can sometimes reach down and make magic when we most need His help. G‑d is my Creator, my best friend and my source of life, minute to minute. He is with me every moment of every day. I breathe because He breathes into me, each moment, the breath of life. I think because He constantly blesses me with wisdom. I succeed because He guides my hand.

My life is an extension of His. My success is His success.

I don’t want Him to give me stuff. Everything I have is thanks to Him. I just want Him to stick around, to always be with me. With every breath I celebrate our relationship. It’s nothing to take for granted.

See What is Emunah? Beyond Belief and What is Bitachon? Real Confidence.