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A Little Story About What Meir Said

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A few days ago, my husband and I had just finished a meeting in Kikar HaMusica - Music Square - in Jerusalem with some new friends from Texas. Walking to our car, we stopped in a makolet, a small Israeli convenience store. We made our selection and went to the register to pay.
There was a middle-aged man behind the counter. As we concluded our business, my husband wished him "yom tov", which literally means "good day" and is the Israeli equivalent of "Have a nice day." The man replied with gusto, "Yom tov u'mevorach!"
He was wishing us not just a good day, but a blessed one.
"Psssh!" I responded, which, on the street in Israel, means I was impressed by his enthusiasm on an ordinary weekday afternoon. Psssh (and I may be spelling it wrong) is like a verbal thumbs up.
We learned that this man who stood before us, without a kippa, in his modest makolet in the middle of downtown Jerusalem, was called Meir. And he turned into a font of spiritual wisdom.

In Israeli-accented English, he told us how every day, he wraps himself in tefillin, looks heavenward, and thanks Hashem for the good. "Also," he told us, "if things are not so good, I say thank you so I can appreciate when it is good."
Sensing a receptive audience, Meir went on to share some of his other, everyday spiritual insights.

His emphasis on gratitude reminded me of a project in gratitude I had recently attempted. The project's goal was to thank God for 100 things every day for 40 days, so that at the end of 40 days, you would have 4,000 reasons to be grateful.
One hundred gratitudes a day. For most of us, that's a daunting task. We start at the beginning, thanking God for the big things - our health, our families, our livelihood and so on. That's good for the first five or ten gratitudes. And then it gets a little more challenging. We have to dig a little deeper.
Here are ten random things for which I expressed gratitude while I was doing this project:
  • for the clean sheets I have to sleep on
  • for my two thumbs
  • for the fact that I don't need dentures
  • for the ability to swallow
  • for warm socks
  • for the music of Cat Stevens
  • for the ability to distinguish colors
  • for ready access to an unlimited supply of clean water
  • for our own washer and dryer
  • for the ability to tell time
In each case, I thought about how much harder or less pleasant my life would be if I didn't have whatever I named. Even something as simple as warm, dry socks are to be appreciated on a cold and rainy January day. It's a mindset, to not take anything for granted. Once I started doing the project, I found that my attention was focused on noticing things during the day to appreciate. Whenever I saw or heard about someone who lacked something, from a pen to the ability to swollow, I noted with gratitude that I had been blessed with those things.

And, like we learned from our spiritual guide, Meir the Makolet Man, I also thanked God for the hard things. For the fact that something didn't work out as planned, for the events that hurt, for love that ended in heartbreak or in death. Because these are also part of God's plan for me. And, like Meir taught while standing in front of his display of alcohol and tobacco and batteries, from the simple awareness of these disappointments, we better appreciate the myriad of things that are so, so good and sweet.
We went in for a snack. And we left enriched by a dose of Meir's spiritual inspiration.
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