Quotations on Gratitude

The following are quotations from a variety of sources on the subject of gratitude. Their wisdom is another reason to give thanks.

Consider attaching a quotation on thankfulness to each person's place card around your Thanksigiving holiday table. You can invite people to share their quotes and/or to experience the holiday through the prism of their randomly selected quotation.


When a person doesn't have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude. –Elie Weisel

Ben Zoma was once in a [crushing] crowd on the steps of the Temple mount. He said: “Blessed is the One who discerns secrets, and blessed is the One who has created all these people to serve me.” For, he also used to say, “What labors did Adam have to carry out before he obtained bread to eat? He ploughed. He sowed. He reaped. He bound the sheaves, threshed the grained, winnowed the chaff, selected the ears, ground them, sifted the flour, kneaded the dough, and baked it. Only then was he able to eat. But I get up and find that all these things have already been done for me. Similarly, how many labors did Adam have to carry out before he obtained a garment to wear? He had to shear the sheep, wash the wool, comb it, spin it, and weave it. All I have to do is get up and find these things done for me. All kinds of artisans come early to the door of my house, and I rise in the morning and find all these before me.” – Talmud Berachot 58a.

Ben Zoma used to say, “What does a good guest say? “How much trouble my host has taken for me! How much meat he has set before me! How much wine he has set before me! How many cakes he has set before me! And all the trouble has taken was only for my sake!” -- Talmud Berachot 58a.

One who crosses the ocean and is rescued from a shipwreck gives thanks to God. Should we not thank God if we cross without a mishap? One who is cured of a dangerous illness offers praise to God. Should we not praise God when God grants health and preserves us from illness? –The Radziminer Rebbe

Two kinds of gratitude: The sudden kind we feel for what we take; the larger kind we feel for what we give. – Edwin Arlington Robinson

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. – Albert Schweitzer

It’s a sign of mediocrity when you demonstrate gratitude with moderation. –Roberto Benigni

My grandmother would ask me, whenever someone complained. “Sister, did you hear what Brother So-and-So or Sister Much-to-Do complained about?” I would nod. “Sister, there are people who went to sleep all over the world last night, poor and rich and white and black, but they will never wake again. Sister, those who expected to rise did not, their beds became their cooling boards and their blankets became their winding sheets. And those dead folks would give anything, anything at all, for just five minutes of this weather or ten minutes of that [work] that person was grumbling about. So, watch yourself about complaining, Sister. What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. And if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” –Maya Angelou.

Don't grumble. It may lead to other sins. –Derech Eretz Zuta

Although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty. – Edward Winslow writing about the first American Thanksgiving, December 11, 1621

The prohibition against ingratitude applies not just to personal kindnesses, but to intellectual influences. Thus the Gaon of Vilna counsels, “If you find something worthwhile in a book written by another, don’t ridicule parts of the book with which you disagree.”–Rabbi Joseph Telushkin

Blessed are those who can give without remembering and receive without forgetting. –Unknown

Can you see the holiness in those things you take for granted--a paved road or a washing machine? If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul. – Rabbi Harold Kushner

If you can't be thankful for what you receive, be thankful for what you escape. –Unknown

Ingratitude to man is ingratitude to God. –Shmuel HaNagid

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others. –Cicero

We give thanks to You, Adonai, our God, because we are able to give thanks.–Sotah 40a



Thanksgiving is a significant theme on our six CD's. Along with Debra's newest CD entitled Gratitude, the opening track on Transformation Now , “Why We Are Here,” reminds us that gratitude is intimately tied up with knowing our purpose. Later tracks on that same CD show us why – and how – to be grateful for our free will choices, the lessons we had to learn the hard way, and even people who try our patience.

Awe Always cultivates not only reverence for the way we use our time, but gratitude for the time we are granted. It also explores what we really mean when we give thanks to God.

Compassion Constantly teaches gratitude for life, and finding blessing even in crisis. Others may seem to “have it all,” but be grateful for your lot and don’t engage in negative comparisons, for, as this CD teaches at the most profound level, “you never really know what another person is going through.”

Reb Zalman’s CD’s offer stunning examples of gratitude, from the opening Halleluyah of Reb Zalman Prays to the life-changing perspective on synagogue honors offered on Reb Zalman Teaches.

If you haven’t yet ordered these CD’s for yourself, click here. If you have, you may want to listen again, with an ear attuned to Thanksgiving. CD’s make wonderful Hanukah gifts.