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Shmot(Exodus 1:1-6:1)

Gratitude Has No Expiration Date

The famine that besieged Egypt and the rest of the world had come to an end. Joseph, along with the entire generation, had all passed away. And:

"A new king arose over Egypt, who did not know of Joseph." (Exodus 1:8)


A LIFE LESSON

Is it really possible that anyone - let alone a king - would be unaware of all that Joseph had done for the country? How could anyone in Egypt ever forget the vital role he played its survival? Joseph, as second in command and sole architect of making Egypt the richest country on Earth, should have been immortalized for eternity. It defies logic that anyone could forget the one person who single-handedly saved Egypt and the entire world from famine.

Joseph wasn't forgotten in the sense that no one "remembered" him. Rather, the significance of his life-saving contributions had simply faded from everyone's memory.

Joseph's insights and acumen clearly saved the lives of every man, women, and child. But as soon as the necessity of his contributions were no longer needed, then the appreciation for Joseph ceased as well. When the pain of Egypt's experience ended, so did their memory of Joseph.

During the massive famine that spread throughout the entire world, Joseph was at the center of it all. Every country was dependent upon Egypt for their survival. But when the famine ended, then Joseph's help was no longer valuable or even needed. And, over time, the mental leap that someone makes from when a person's contributions are no longer needed and the memory of when they were so desperately needed becomes smaller and smaller. And after an entire generation passed away, the people in Egypt simply did not know of Joseph.

Difficult to imagine? It actually occurs in our own lives all the time. Think about it. There are people who have helped you enormously in the past in one way or another. And when they gave you their assistance - whatever it might have been - you certainly expressed your gratitude. But as time went on, it's just not natural to continue to shower the person with appreciation and gratitude.

But this doesn't mean that you can't let them know "out of the blue" once again just how much you appreciate what they did for you. Saying "thank you" to the person long after they've given you their help, is such a beautiful and selfless way to live. And the recipient will appreciate it beyond words.

It is very easy to forget people who were there for us, because once their assistance is no longer needed, our appreciation for what they did can easily fade away. And as more and more time passes, we can actually completely forget those people who were there for us when we needed them the most.

It's not that hard to show appreciation toward someone right after he's helped you. But the true measure of a person is not demonstrated by the gratitude you show a person after he's helped you. Rather, the measure of a person is demonstrated by the heartfelt gratitude he can still show long after the fact. True gratitude is not defined by a person who doesn't forget; it's defined by the one who always remembers. Make the call today.

Published: January 14, 2006

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Visitor Comments: 5

(5) David Gr, January 14, 2012 4:35 PM

"What Have You Done for Me Lately?"

This common expression pretty well sums it up. Kind of sad but all too common. :-(

(4) Anonymous, December 20, 2010 2:00 PM

Some of us have forgotten

If it can be possible for some of us to forget the revelation at Sinai & the miracles Hashem did for us in the desert for 40 years, then we shoiuldn't be surprised that the Egyptians forgot Joseph. Gratitude begins with Hashem - to remember everyday that the Eternal One sustains his creation for us giving us time to wake up to the infinite nature of Hashem's goodness.

(3) MICHELE BARUCHOV, January 12, 2007 2:33 AM

I REALLY ENJOY YOUR ARTICLES.

(2) Andy, January 9, 2007 2:46 PM

that old familiar song keeps Paro on my mind

It seems much of the public was appreciative of Joseph for saving them from famine, but hated him for removing them from their lands and turning them over to the state.The Jews where given good land in Goshen but it seems by this time many had relocated and lived among the general population along the Nile.A new dynasty came along and exploited the mixed feelings of the masses towards this foreign people in their midst. Sound familiar yet.

(1) Aryeh, November 15, 2006 2:27 PM

Thank you

Reb Lieberman, thanks for this beautiful article. It's amazing to consider how to history of Egypt could have been very different had they had simple gratitude. We need to make gratitude part of our lives, part of our parenting, to make the world a place that flows with gratitude. We can do it - every thank you note counts!

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