The understanding of chinam, as Rabbi Simcha Weinberg has taught, was eye-opening for me. The sense that a person’s life, a group of people, or an idea can be treated as — and become —worthless in the eyes of another can be devastating. One example was a person who loses much in life. Perhaps it’s their job, a loved one, their health (the list can go on), , chas v’shalom, he then considers his life a waste, worthless.
Another example might be raising children with your own parental expectations, then the disappointment of a child choosing their own life. It can be so crushing that their life’s struggle has become hevel, a whisp of nothingness.
Yesterday, on Shabbos, I saw what I believe is the Shemoneh Esrei response, or remedy to this malady. We recite in gratitude in the Modim:
We will thank You and recount Your praise, for our lives which are placed into Your hand; and for our souls which are entrusted to You, and for Your miracles that are with us every day; and for Your wonders and favors (good things) that [occur] at all times— evening, morning and afternoon.
How fortunate we are to have this daily, repeated reinforcement of Hashem’s love for us and for how significant are our lives! And as my son, Aryeh Dan Gavriel added, “This begins when we first wake up and say Modeh Ani.”