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Leah and the Lesson of Gratitude

Leah and the Lesson of Gratitude

Being a Jew is synonymous with expressing gratitude. Our matriarch Leah taught us to see everything in life as a gift.

"From the day that God created the world, there was no one who thanked God until Leah came and thanked Him." (The Talmud)

Leah, married to Jacob, was one of the mothers of the Jewish people. In the passage above the Talmud is referring to the birth of Leah's fourth son, Judah. The name Judah shares the same root in Hebrew as the word todah, meaning "thank you." But what does the Talmud mean when it says that Leah was the first person to ever really thank God?

Abraham never thanked God? Noah never thanked God? Sarah never thanked God? Of course, they did. In fact, many people had thanked God in the Torah long before Leah. Therefore, the Talmud must be telling us that there was something special about Leah's thankfulness. Her gratitude must have been somehow truer and deeper than that of anyone who had come before her.

By understanding what made Leah's gratitude special, we will learn what true gratefulness is all about.


Leah was a prophetess who knew that the Jewish nation was destined to descend from the 12 sons of Jacob, her husband. Each tribe would be a foundation stone that would shape our history. Jacob's sons would come from four women: Leah, Rachel, Bilha, and Zilpah. Leah expected that each woman would have 3 sons.

Leah's thankfulness for the birth of Judah was deeper and more heartfelt because he was unexpected.

Judah was Leah's fourth son. She recognized that he was one more than her share. Her thankfulness for Judah was deeper and more heartfelt because he was unexpected. He was a gift.

This is how we are supposed to view everything in life. Every ray of sunshine, every child, every breath -- they are all gifts from God.

The mistake of thinking any thing is owed to us blocks us from gratitude.

People sometimes don't appreciate sight until they meet someone who is blind. We shouldn't wait until we are sick to appreciate our health. We should count our blessings every day and take pleasure in the miraculous gifts bestowed upon us.


Jewish consciousness says that every morning we should rise with the prayer, Modeh Ani: "I am grateful to God for bringing life to me each and every day."

At our time of sorrow, when we have lost a loved one, we are forced to stand and face our own mortality. We do not live forever, and we do not know from one day to the next when our time will come. All we can do is say, Modeh Ani: "I am grateful to God, for giving me another day, and another opportunity to use it wisely."

Our religion is called "Judaism" from Judah. The essence of being a Jew is to be thankful. Realize, as Leah did, that every moment of life is a gift. Open the gift and take pleasure in its Source.

Adapted from Lori Palatnik's Remember My Soul Buy the book from

January 22, 2000

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Visitor Comments: 11

(11) David, June 22, 2008 11:05 AM

learn your own lesson

This is how we are supposed to view everything in life. Every ray of sunshine, every child, every breath -- they are all gifts from God.

(10) Esty, November 10, 2007 11:05 AM

thats so true...

leah teaches us a great always be greedy is horible because you wont see what your being given.we should always be thankful and be happy with what we have.

(9) Audrey, January 9, 2005 12:00 AM


So needed is the spirit of gratefulness. Thank you so much for reminding me of all that I have to be grateful for. God Bless

(8) charlotte, June 1, 2004 12:00 AM

about it

it is good and very useful thank you

(7) Ray Walker, December 17, 2002 12:00 AM


Yes, Leah's gratitude to HaShem, is a good reminder to all of us, from the time we get up in the morning until we go to sleep at night. Lately, I have put a slim volune of the Psalms under my pillow before sleep lest I forget.

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