Sometimes the etymology of words can reveal tremendous depth and meaning. Such is the case when we examine the deeper meaning behind the commonly used expression, “Thanks for your generosity.”
The word thank is related phonetically to think just as the word song is related to sing. This etymological insight helps us to understand that feelings of gratitude have long been linked to human thought. When we receive a gift from someone, we tend to think of them in an elevated way, and this cognitive shift is directly imbedded in the way in which we express gratitude. When we say, “Thank you,” we are essentially saying, “This gift makes me think of you.”
The origins of the word generosity are insightful as well. Rooted in the Latin word for “of noble birth,” expressions of generosity emerge from an honorable place in the human soul. Thus, when we say, “Thank you for your generosity,” we are essentially saying, “This noble offering from the depths of your soul makes me think of you.”
In April, each member of our congregation received a letter expressing a financial shortfall for this fiscal year. The letter explained that due to a number of factors our expenses were likely going to exceed our revenue. This letter also made a plea for financial assistance in addressing this budgetary challenge, and our membership rose to the occasion.
It is with tremendous gratitude and joy that we can report that through acts of your generosity (gifts from your soul), the financial concerns have been alleviated. Thank you!
As we consider the response to this letter, it is important to know that the generous support was not from just a few people — we had 40 gifts and 13 increases in dues. These numbers are significant. They demonstrate that the health and future of a community is a collective endeavor.
Our sages taught, “Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Ba’Zeh – The entire community of Israel is responsible for one another.” This statement stresses the idea that Jews in general and our congregational family in particular share a common destiny, and we need each other to achieve it. Your responses to the pleas of our community are a profound demonstration of this long standing Jewish value.
Indeed, whenever we gather to worship, celebrate, learn, mourn and serve, we take these ancient words to heart. We are all in this together. We are all responsible for our collective destiny. We share a responsibility to the youngest through the oldest members of our community, and like a big family, we seek to provide for the present as we ensure stability for the future. For all this and so much more, “Thank you for your generosity.”