By Rabbi Rick Sherwin
One of the first interactive rules we teach our very young children (besides “share”) is “say thank you.” Our hope is that the perfunctory phrase evolves into a meaningful expression of appreciation.
Elissa and I volunteered to distribute shirts to smiling Disney runners participating in 5K, 10K and/or half-marathon races. Many of the runners receiving the shirts said, “thank you for volunteering,” and the ESPN Disney staff said “thank you” as we walked out of the building at the end of our shift.
Everyone likes to be appreciated for offering time and attention, including those who are just doing their job: the cashier, the teacher, the nurse, the barista, the flight attendant, the receptionist… everyone. It should be more than a habit to say thank you to anyone who offers even the smallest gesture, the person who holds the elevator, lets you step in line because you only have a few items, volunteers for… pretty much anything.
I love this ancient Jewish insight: When the world is the way it needs to be, there will be no need to recite prayers for peace, for we will have overcome pettiness and rivalry. There will be no need to pray for health, for we will know how to prevent disease. There will be no need pray to end poverty and hunger, for we will know how to take care of everyone. But there will always be the need for prayers of thanksgiving.
In the Talmud, Rabbi Meir teaches, you must “offer 100 utterances of thanks every day.” Say thank you as often as you can, every opportunity you get.” And he was not just talking to children.
Rabbi Rick Sherwin, a graduate of UCLA, was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. Rabbi Rick’s passion is filling spiritual services and interfaith educational programs with creativity, relevance, dialogue, and humor.