It’s a lost art, appreciation. People who see something beautiful such as a beautiful house or a palace, may know that it’s beautiful, but they don’t usually appreciate all of the thought and hard work that went into planning it and building it. People who see great performances often don’t appreciate that the performer has spent hours and hours learning, rehearsing, and improving his/her performance. When food is delicious, we often don’t appreciate the wonder of beautiful fruits and vegetables growing from seeds out of the ground in a rainbow of colors and a variety of shapes and sizes. We don’t appreciate the person who peeled and cut and arranged the food. We don’t appreciate the minutes or hours spent mixing, dicing, sauteing, kneading. When the table is set, we don’t appreciate the thought given to settings and colors and table accessories. When we see a garden, we don’t praise the gardener. When someone we love tells us he/she loves us, we hear, but often we don’t really hear. We don’t fully understand or appreciate the importance of ourselves in that person’s life or of their importance in ours. When people die, often survivors then begin to see the kindness, the warmth, the sacrifice of their deceased relative. Then they realize what they have lost.

Sometimes when I wonder what all of the traditions we as Jews observe are about, I remember that there is a large component of appreciation– for the food we eat, for the land we were given. These prayers should serve to sensitize us to the gifts we have been given, whether by G-d, by the people we love, or by those who work to make our lives better.

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