Thanking Hashem with Rabbi Avigdor Miller

A Pracical Guide to the wonderful joy of gratitude to Hashem
By Rabbi Dovid Shteinhaus

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. The importance of the Mitzvah of thanking Hashem

Chapter 2. How to attain feelings of gratitude to Hashem

Chapter 3. Examples of recognizing the details of the amazing kindness of the Creation:

1. Material kindnesses
2. Spiritual kindnesses

Chapter 4. The ramifications of gratitude and ingratitude to Hashem

= Preface =

Any thinking person who opens his eyes and looks around him will see that the world we live in is proclaiming avidly and articulately the wonderful goodness of Hashem. He will see the striking beauty of the flowers that Hashem put in the world, - each one a masterpiece of artistic design - with their amazing variety of shapes, colors and fragrances. He will see the many different types of fruits with their array of shapes, tastes and nutritional benefits. He will feel the pleasant, beneficial light and warmth of the sun, and the pleasurable light of the moon. He will be struck speechless before the awesome intelligence evident in the efficiency of the structure of the human body, and from the ingenious design of the human family, with all the considerate thoughtfulness manifest in all of these and throughout creation to make our life pleasant and joyous. He will discern that Hashem did not make us unfeeling robots, but placed within us a large variety of pleasurable feelings of joy, and together with them designed and filled the world with innumerable innovations to arouse in us these pleasant sensations. From all of these, he will come to the realisation that there is a Creator of the world who loves us and wants our good and our happiness. Someone who perceives this will wonder how it is possible that so many people do not see all of this. They have eyes, yet they do not see the wonders of The Creator, they have a heart, yet they do not feel His great love for them. 

We are fortunate to be living in a generation that has made extensive progress in keeping Mitzvos meticulously, and in learning Torah, yet there still is one field where there is much neglect - the Mitzvos in the Torah relating to feelings and emotions ("Mitzvos Halev") and specifically the Mitzvah of ''Ahavas Hashem''. Even though these Mitzvos are the main objective of the Torah as Chazal emphasized1 and is elaborated on by the Rishonim2, nevertheless people view these Mitzvos as ''Mussar'' and ''Chassidus'' not as crucial fundamental Mitzvos that are the life purpose of every Jew. Everyone reads Krias Shma every day in which it is written ואהבת את ה' אלקיך - ''You should love Hashem your G-d'', yet only very few people ask themselves if they actually fulfil this Mitzvah adequately and make an effort to investigate the means to implement it in practice. This casual attitude with respect to one of the 613 Mitzvos that we were given on Har Sinai is quite surprising. In order to implement the Mitzvos we are obliged to make use of all the intelligence that Hashem granted us to try to determine the way to fulfil them appropriately.

Hashem, in His great kindness and concern for our welfare, sent us a Tzadik and true servant of Hashem, Harav Avigdor Miller ZTL, who made it his lifework to reawaken awareness of the significance of the Mitzvos Halev of the Torah, and especially the Mitzvah of appreciation and gratitude to Hashem. He expended much energy in his shiurim and the books he wrote to bring these important Mitzvos to the forefront of our attention. Yet even after a successful lifetime of effort in this field, the work still remains unfinished and it is up to us to take the project from where he left it and continue his inspired initiative. This is the purpose of this present compilation of his teachings, to arouse with Hashem's help awareness of the exceptional importance for everyone to open their eyes and heart to see the wonderful gifts of Hashem that fill the whole of creation and to feel sincere gratitude towards Him for all that He created for our benefit and enjoyment.