"Whenever you experience any sort of salvation, however small it might seem, write it down in your book of thanks"
It might have been just what America — maybe what the world — needed. The annual dinner of Yeshiva Bais Yehudah in Detroit, always an impressive event, managed, in a time of challenge and fear, to offer uplift, unity, and chizuk to hundreds of thousands of virtual participants.
It wasn’t the high-profile speakers, the president, vice president, or prime minister that did it, but it was the call of the children themselves, the rousing thank-you that came forth from talmidim and talmidos grateful to be part of an island of Torah and middos; from the rebbeim, moros, and teachers grateful to be part of the magic.
The yeshivah’s president, Mr. Gary Torgow, conceived of a novel way of acknowledging the overwhelmingly positive feedback to the event, printing up beautiful leather-bound books containing many blank pages — with a letter included. It’s about an overwhelmed activist who once came to speak with Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach:
He was done, he announced. He simply couldn’t raise money for another payroll. It was too much pressure to raise the necessary funds every single month and he wanted to close the yeshivah. Rav Shlomo Zalman conceded that this was a challenge.
“Let me tell you something, my friend,” Rav Shlomo Zalman continued, “everyone faces financial pressures. Every rosh yeshivah and rosh kollel, every business owner who needs to pay his staff, every parent trying to provide for their children… it’s part of life. Instead of worry, you can develop a real faith, bitachon in Hashem, and then you will have the tools to enjoy what you’re doing.”
“But how?” asked the visitor, “how can I develop such faith?”
Rav Shlomo Zalman offered practical advice.
“Buy a small notebook and keep it with you. Whenever you experience any sort of salvation, however small it might seem, write it down in your book of thanks. It will fill up quickly and then, when you daven Shemoneh Esreh and reach the tefillah of Modim, open it up and glance through it.
“If you follow my advice,” Rav Shlomo Zalman concluded, “you will feel the kindness of Hashem at all times and you will develop real faith. If you know what He’s done, then you can anticipate what He will do.”
This is the story that accompanies the book (available free of charge via AnEveningOfUnity.com), with every empty page a call for contemplation, reflection, and gratitude.
Is there really any better way to find inspiration to keep on doing?
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 832)
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