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Thursday, November 15, 2018 7 Kislev 5779


The first Lubavitch/Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, author of the Tanya and Code of Jewish Law, once remarked that a Jew must "live with the times." His son explained the meaning: A Jew must live with the Torah portion of the week - i.e., he must assimilate the lessons of the weekly Torah portion
Leah Gives Thanks
When Leah, Jacob’s first wife, gives birth to her fourth son she names him Yehudah because, she says, “this time I will thank [Odeh] G-d.”
The question has been raised, why did she wait for the birth of her fourth son to finally thank G-d? The names of Leah’s first three sons reflect her sense of alienation and her status as the less-favored wife, as Jacob preferred Rachel over her. Leah named her first son Reuven, meaning, “G-d has seen my affliction.” Her second son was named Simon, meaning “G-d has heard my pain.” Her third son’s name, Levi, was from the root of leviyah, accompaniment--”From now on my husband will accompany me.” Only the fourth son, Judah, reflected complete and total gratitude to G-d.
Rashi explains that Leah was prophetically aware that Jacob would father 12 sons with four wives. She took this to mean that each wife would bear Jacob three sons. Now that she had borne him a fourth son, Leah felt that she had to offer a more profound expression of gratitude because she received more than her share of children.
However, the question can still be asked why she couldn’t express pure gratitude for the first three sons? Why did it take getting more than her equal share to prompt her thanks to G-d?
The 20th century work Meshech Chochma explains the symbolism of the first three sons and contrasts it with the fourth.
When we partake of food and drink we must recite a blessing beforehand. The Talmud explains, “It is forbidden to derive benefit from this world without a blessing.” What about a blessing for other forms of enjoyment, such as hearing a lovely melody or viewing a beautiful piece of art? No blessing is needed for other pleasures, with the exception of smelling pleasant fragrances. We need not say a blessing for aesthetic pleasures that involve visual, auditory or tactile impressions. Only a pleasure that one ingests and internalizes requires a blessing; those include olfactory pleasures.
Hence, when Leah has Reuven, whose name represents the sense of vision, she does not expressly thank G-d. Likewise, when she has Shimon, whose name symbolizes hearing, Leah does not give explicit thanks to G-d. And again, when she has Levi, whose name alludes to touch, she does not mention thanksgiving. These sensory pleasures are more aesthetic than tangible; the requirement for a blessing arises only when the benefit received is tangible.
But Yehudah is different. Yehudah is the direct ancestor of Moshiach, about whom Isaiah says (Isaiah 11:1-3) that he will judge with his power of smell. With Yehudah’s birth Leah unequivocally and unabashedly thanks G-d. Yehudah, who represents the sense of smell, evokes her special, unmitigated gratitude to G-d.
The connection between smell and the Messianic Age is explained in other sources by reference to Adam and Eve’s partaking of the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. All of their senses were involved, and thereby tainted, in this transgression, except for their sense of smell. As recorded in Genesis, Eve saw the fruit, heard the enticing words of the serpent, touched the fruit and tasted it. The only sense left out of the Torah’s description of this catastrophe was the sense of smell. Hence, that sense was not corrupted by their sin. It is, therefore, the power possessed by Moshiach that will bring the world to its state of perfection.
It is a well-known fact that there is a correlation between gratitude and happiness. Happy people are, by nature, grateful people and grateful people are happy.
Thus, the pure gratitude that we will feel in the imminent Messianic Age will also translate into each of us as unadulterated and unprecedented happiness.

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