I Appreciate You

In the State of the Union, the President acknowledged the hard-working middle class of our country. He thanked the Americans whose labor builds our nation. Appreciating workers is a Jewish value. I found it in the final verses of Exodus.

In the concluding passages of Exodus, God provided Moses with instructions for building the Tabernacle. The generosity of the people led to an abundance of donated materials, prompting Moses to halt further contributions. Skilled artisans then crafted the intricate structures and decorations of the Tabernacle. The narrative concludes with Moses offering his blessing upon witnessing the completion of their tasks. “And when Moses saw that they had performed all the tasks—as יהוה had commanded, so they had done—Moses blessed them.”

This seemingly overlooked passage holds a profound lesson for us. When individuals perform their work diligently and take pride in their contributions, they warrant our gratitude and blessings. Whether it’s the chambermaid in a hotel or the attendant cleaning an airport bathroom, acknowledging their efforts is a Jewish value.

While Judaism draws us into a relationship with God, our tradition also teaches the importance of our relationship with each other. For example, Talmud tractate Mishnah Peah begins with the requirement that farmers leave the corners of their fields for poor people to glean. The Mishnah continues with these words: “The following are the things for which a person enjoys the fruits in this world while the principal remains for them in the world to come: Honoring one’s father and mother; The performance of righteous deeds; And the making of peace between a person and their friend.”  Essentially, our treatment of others dictates our fate in both this world and the world to come.

In this context, Moses serves as a role model for our conduct in the world. When we recognize and appreciate the labor undertaken for our benefit, we spread godliness everywhere. Let’s emulate Moses’ spirit of acknowledgment, gratitude, and blessing, fostering a world where the divine and the human intersect harmoniously.

Rabbi Evan J. Krame