Rabbi Shai Held writes about the matriarch Leah naming her fourth son Yehudah.
A Talmudic sage makes a surprising, even jarring statement about Leah. R. Simeon b. Yohai says that Leah was the first person in the history of the world who ever expressed gratitude to God (Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 7b). What could this possibly mean? Of course, other people before Leah had offered thanksgiving to God. According to Psalm 139, Adam expressed profound gratitude to God for how wondrously he was made (Psalm 139:14). What makes Leah's gratitude unique; what is it that establishes her as the first truly grateful person?
It is one thing to be grateful when everything is wonderful, when all of our dreams have been fulfilled and all of our hungers sated. But it is quite another to be grateful when life is complicated, when some of our most cherished dreams have remained painfully unrealized, when some of our yearnings are so intense that they threaten to burn right through us. Leah is the first person to feel and express gratitude even and especially amid profound sorrow and enduring disappointment.
Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-shai-held/holding-gratitude-and-disappointment_b_4220057.html