Dealing With Lack of Appreciation

People involved in Communal and Chesed projects know that it is not unusual for the recipients to not show adequate (or sometimes any) appreciation. Although at the higher levels of Chesed we should not care about the appreciation shown, it can be troublesome sometimes.

How have people dealt with this situation either internally or through verbal expression to the recipients?

7 comments on “Dealing With Lack of Appreciation

  1. I went to a Bar Mitzvah today of someone who moved from our neighborhood 12 years ago and we have kept in touch sporadically so my wife and I were wondering why we we’re invited since we’re not that close.

    When I went, I found out that the Bar Mitzvah boy was born on Erev Shabbos after 1:00 PM and my wife and I put together the Shalom Zucker for them. As a show of HaKaros HaTov we were invited to the Bar Mitzvah 13 years later.

  2. I used to be involved with activities on befalf of my fellow Jews. Some people were very appreciative; some the opposite.

    If you are going to do things for the community, you must do it because you believe that it is the correct thing to do, regardless of what others think, and because you believe in Yom HaDin and Gan Eden and Olam HaBa.

    You can not rely on appreciation from people, especially of you are involved in an unusual or non-traditional cause that many people will not understand.

  3. Sometimes chesed is done improperly. The doer may mean well, but unfortunately the action might not be what that person wants or needs. I remember that a particular Rabbanit once made me her chesed project. The Rabbanit decided that the rooms in my house needed painting (don’t ask). She called up my mother to send a check to pay for it. Then the Rabbanit chose the colors herself and hired a painter who actually showed up one day with his crew and cans of paint. I sent him away, saying to him, “Look you can’t come to paint my house just because someone else tells you to do it, I have to hire you.” I tried to explain nicely to the Rabbanit that wasn’t what I needed at that point in my life, the humiliation of having someone else making decisions for me. What I would have appreciated far far more than the Rabbanit unilaterally deciding what I needed, would have been a quiet chat with the Rabbanit actually listening to what I had to say.

  4. I once heard RHS quote RYBS, based upon the Halachos related to Aveilus that are apparent in Parshas Vayechi that the highest form of Chesed is that for which there is no expectation of any reward. OTOH, if an organization deems a person worthy of a small token of appreciation ( aka a modern day Korban Tzibur), then the issue becomes whether one should run away from such a request inasmuch the community and organization deem the person as so deserving and whether the refusal in such a case is a true display of Anavah or Gaavah masking itself as Anavah.

  5. When I was a freshman at YU, I attended recall R Lamm once giving a Shabbos night lecture and he discussed the issue of chessed and volunteering. He said emphatically that the first thing you must tell yourself before doing a chessed is, “Don’t expect thanks”.

    I think that it’s hard at times for recipients to show appreciation because they may be embarassed by their need for a “chessed”.

    I know with our kids, we attempt to say thank you in the house as much as possible. If kids see adults saying thank you to each other (or even better, verbally to Hashem), that makes a big difference.

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