[Avodah] hakarat hatov

Micha Berger via Avodah avodah at lists.aishdas.org
Thu Aug 27 10:37:32 PDT 2015

On Thu, Aug 27, 2015 at 12:00:05PM +0000, Rich, Joel via Avodah wrote:
: Is Hakarat Hatov actionable in beit din (e.g. would they force a party
: to return a favor?) or is it a good midah but not exhibiting it is not
: actionable? (and what about in the beit din shel maalah?)

My own lexicon:
hakaras hatov: realizing that a good thing came into your life
hoda'ah: acknowledging the one who / One Who provided that good

Say Avi gives Berakhah a ball.

Berakhah's hakaras hatov has an primary object, which is the ball --
the tov she received from Avi. Not taking life's gifts for granted.

But her hoda'ah has a primary object -- which is Avi, and a secondary
object, the ball. As in the grammar of "Modim anachnu Lakh al...";
the prespositional phrase giving you the secondary object is a list
of all the things Hashem does for us.

I do not even know of a term for requiring repaying a favor. Although
there is meishiv ra'ah tachas tovah (Mishlei 17:13, c.f. Bereishis 44:4,
Shemuel I 25:21, Yirmiyahu 18:20, Tehillim 35:12, 38:21, 109:5). Not an
obligation to repay as much as an issur against doing them wrong.

Which, if you think about it, is what Chazal say about the early makos
and how Moshe would not be the one to launch a makah that afflicts the
water that saved him as a baby or the sand that hid the body.

I'm not thrilled with the whole idea of exchanging favors, creating a
market. It turns everything back on self-service -- every positive
act is tainted by expectation of being repaid.

: How does this relate to kavod av/rav and shushbein cases?

Perhaps kibud av va'eim and kavod harav are their own concepts for a
reason. And that hakaras hatov might explain the issur against hurting
or cursing one's parents, but not kavod and yir'ah.

I must confess I don't know what you mean by "shushbein cases".

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             When a king dies, his power ends,
micha at aishdas.org        but when a prophet dies, his influence is just
http://www.aishdas.org   beginning.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                    - Soren Kierkegaard

More information about the Avodah mailing list