Rabbi Dov Keilson, well-known speaker, shared an inspiring shiur virtually on behalf of Chazaq, Asher to The Yatzar, and 5 Towns Central on the theme of appreciating our bodies. This shiur was part five of a series and was dedicated in memory of Dr. Nachman Schorr z”l, Mrs. Dvora Leah Hecht a”h, and Mrs. Shoshana Strickman a”h.
Rabbi Keilson imparted that Sefer Iyov tells us an amazing statement that means so much to us: “From my flesh I see G-d.” He’s saying that a person doesn’t have to travel far to see Hashem.” He only has to open his eyes to look at himself and he will see Hashem day and night.”
There’s a story in the book Noble Lives Noble Deeds that illustrates this idea. There was a famous Rebbe traveling through Switzerland, and his student kept telling him to look out the window to see the beautiful view of the snow-covered Alps. The Rebbe refused to look out and kept his eyes shut the whole time. He explained later to his student that you do not have to look anywhere outside of your own body to see Hashem.
The problem is that we naturally don’t open our eyes to the wonders of our own body. So, that is the intent of this series – to change the natural way we view things so we have a newfound appreciation of what we take for granted. The reason we take things for granted is that we were brought up without daas. When you are young, you don’t appreciate everything that you benefit from on a daily basis. When Hashem created Adam, Adam looked in all directions at the world and he was delirious with joy and filled with appreciation. When he looked at his own body, he was overwhelmed by every single nuance. He had this deep appreciation because he was created with a full mind. Everyone who came after him was not created this way in order to give us the great avodah of life of being required to open our eyes and go against the natural way of taking things for granted that we were given since we were young.
On Rosh Chodesh, we say the t’filah Barchi Nafshi. Many chapters in T’hilim begin with King David urging himself to praise Hashem. Rav Avigdor Miller explains that the word Hallel comes from the word holeil, which means wild. Hallel means that a person takes that wildness and expresses it in enthusiasm to Hashem. King David would sit in the grass and look at the wonders of Hashem. He would say, “Be wild with praise, my soul, about Hashem.” In this way, he was urging himself to feel enthusiasm for Hashem, and this is what we have to do on a daily basis.
Rav Avraham Baizansky taught that the Gemara teaches that we should praise Hashem with Hallel on every single breath we take. One time, the grandson of Rav Avigdor Miller saw his grandfather submerging his head in the kitchen sink filled with water. His grandfather pulled out his head and took a breath of delicious fresh air. He said, “Ach, oxygen. We take it for granted.” He explained to his grandson that he was doing this to deepen his appreciation of the air, as he had heard someone make a disparaging remark about air pollution, and he wanted to counteract hearing that negative thing.
Rabbi Keilson began by teaching that reciting in Hallel that “my soul praises Hashem” is one level, but there is another dimension of feeling and enthusiasm that comes from the feeling of true gratitude that a person feels inside. On Purim, when we read the Megillah – that is the Hallel. Rav Chaim Friedlander taught that when a person reads the Megillah and hears about the Divine providence that Hashem performed for us, that person is overwhelmed with gratitude to and awe of Hashem. “So, it’s a hidden Hallel for a hidden miracle.” Rabbi Keilson explained that this appreciation begins from within. The Gemara tells us that King David said Hallel about certain stages of his life. He sang that there is no rock like our G-d. The Hebrew word for rock is tzur, which is the same root as tzayar or artist. So, he is stating there is no artist like Hashem.
Rabbi Keilson shared something he does every night to increase his feelings of gratitude to Hashem. He lists five ways he saw Hashem that day and five things he thanks Hashem for that day. He shared how, when we recite Asher Yatzar, we are thanking Hashem for every part of the millions of miracles Hashem performs with the human body. The blessing contains a space after each line, because when a person starts to recognize the goodness of Hashem that is endless, he cannot fully express his gratitude. It’s inexpressible, and this is how we should feel on a daily basis.
He pointed out how the last pasuk in T’hilim states: “Let every soul praise Hashem, praise Hashem.”
Rabbi Keilson suggested that we focus on one detail of the gifts Hashem gives us and express our heartfelt thanks.
By Susie Garber