By Five Towns Marriage Initiative

One of the themes of the bikurim which is discussed in this week’s parashah is gratitude. The farmer brings his fruit to the Beis HaMikdash and recites a declaration of gratitude to Hashem. At the end of the declaration, it says: “V’samachta b’chol ha’tov asher nassan lecha Hashem Elokecha,” “and you shall rejoice with all the good that the Al-mighty has given you” (26:11). The commentators question why we need to be commanded to rejoice in all the good that we have. Isn’t it the normal reaction of a person to be happy when he has good things?

Rav Gifter explains this commandment with a powerful insight into human nature. People tend to want more than what they have, and therefore the joy and appreciation of what they have is often clouded. It is possible for a person to be surrounded by blessing–a spouse, children, health, and parnassah–and yet not feel happy with all the good. Therefore, the Torah commands us to focus on what we have and rejoice in the good that we have been given.

In marriage, even more than in other areas of our life, it is critical to review our blessings in our spouse frequently. Often our relationships have ups and downs; at times things are not exactly how we would wish. It is important to stop and focus on the positive parts, the aspects that are good or have greatly improved. This focusing will help us to be happier with the way our relationship is now and give us the strength to continue working at it. When we feel more positive about our marriage and feel blessed to be at the stage where we are, it changes the whole atmosphere. Instead of feeling resentful and stuck, we feel blessed and happy. This change in atmosphere has a ripple effect and can affect our home in a positive way.

As we approach Rosh Hashanah, it is an appropriate time to focus on what we have: to both appreciate and rejoice in the good that Hashem has given us and continues to give. May we all be written and sealed in the Book of Life for a year of great success, bounty, and happiness! v

Five Towns Marriage Initiative provides educational programs, workshops, and referrals to top marriage therapists. FTMI will help offset counseling costs when necessary and also runs an anonymous shalom bayis hotline for the entire community Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings, 10:00—11:00 p.m. For the hotline or for more information, call 516-430-5280 or e‑mail


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