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At the end of מוסף לשבת in דרכי אבות השלם (p. 375), a quotation is written in the name of רבי יהודה:

אמר רבי יהודה: אשרי מי שעמלו בתורה ועושה נחת רוח ליוצרו

Rabbi Yoḥanan makes a similar statement in Berakhot 17a:

ר' יוחנן כי הוה מסיים ספרא דאיוב אמר הכי סוף אדם למות וסוף בהמה לשחיטה והכל למיתה הם עומדים אשרי מי שגדל בתורה ועמלו בתורה ועושה נחת רוח ליוצרו

In the words of Shraga (link),

"Can anyone explain [this saying]? How can one give ["naḥat ruaḥ"] to the perfect, non-lacking G-d who feels no emotions?"

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The question starts already in Genesis 8 – Double AA Aug 18 '13 at 15:30
Yahsher Koach. "כל האומר דבר בשם אומרו, מביא גאולה לעולם" :-) – Shraga Aug 18 '13 at 15:51

4 Answers 4

up vote 1 down vote accepted

According to my Rav, we are misreading the quotation by interpreting "nahhat ruahh" as "comfort" or "peace of mind" as the phrase has come to mean in other contexts.

In fact, says my Rav, "nahhat ruahh" is literally "a place for one's spirit to rest (i.e. reside)". If you plug that interpretation/translation back into the quotation it makes much more philosophical sense. By studying and being steeped in Torah, we literally create a place for HaShem's spirit (read: the Shekhinah) to reside.

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God is good. That which is good wants to bestow good (Ramchal). by doing His will, you are allowing Him to bestow good to you thereby fulfilling His purpose for creation. (see also Rashi on Vayikra 1 (reach nichoach) which says one gives nachas ruach to God when fulfilling His will)

God is not something but someone (Rabbi Shimshon Pinkus). He sees, thinks, has free will. it is just beyond us to understand Him at His level.

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You are correct, @ray. It is RaSh"I on VaYiqra 1:9. – Lee Aug 20 '13 at 2:22
It's a nice idea that Rashi brings, but it still doesn't quite answer the question of how a Perfect Being can be said to experience "Nahhat Ruahh". – Lee Aug 20 '13 at 18:58
could be it's all a mashal. just like it says God is angry or jealous, etc. which cannot be taken literally. – ray Aug 20 '13 at 20:29

Although we obviously can't give Hashem anything and nothing can be added to Him, He formed a situation were we offer up to Him and serve Him. As mentioned by @ray, Rashi explains that the Nachas Ruach mentioned by the Korbanos is about the fact that He said and we listen.

Hashem did create a universe that we can add to. This is His system and adding to it is seen and accepted as if you were giving Hashem something.

Think of how when you feed an infant and he tries to put food in your mouth. This is a gesture that, although you don't need his (sticky) present, you accept and take pleasure in. Hashem doesn't personally change and is not personally affected by anyone. However, as with any emotion attributed to Him this can be understood as Hashem knowing, agreeing, and acting on the goodness of the deed.

In fact, by a human as well, an emotion is a recognition of a situation. The difference is that while a human is completely taken over and changed by the situation, Hashem is not changed. But the recognition and reaction is there. This is not a Mashal. It is inherently the same thing minus being affected by it.

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Just received an e-mail from an organization dedicated to Rav Miller. Rabbi Miller said to honor Hashem one must develop a sense of thankfulness to parents for providing us and teachers for transmitting Torah to us. This, according to the rabbi, trains a person to be thankful to Hashem. Apparently one needs to be ingrained/conditioned by their environment to be gracious and thankful before they can understand or even attempt the need to thank Hashem and give him due praise.

Hashem indeed did not have to create the world for His sake nor does He need our praises for his sake. Developing an appreciation for Hashem surely teaches us to have more appreciation for our fellow man (Rav Miller would likely define fellow man differently than I do) making earth a better place (Tikkum Olam). We thus give G-d his praise. It is behavior that moral and ethical humans do whether or not the recipient needs it or not.

I suggest we all begin appreciating each and everyone we know. Maybe then this concept of giving Hashem praise will make more sense. Thank mom and dad immediately!

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how does this answer the question? – ray Aug 20 '13 at 5:02
When we .appreciate what others to do for us we learn the importence of acknowledging them. It becomes natural to see all the wonderful things Hashem does for us. Our response to such blessings will be automatic since a need and want to express such gratitued would be second nature. I suggest we start at the local level. Think about something a loved one did for you. Did you thank them? How? Did you thank them thinking they NEEDED you to or did you thank them because you WANTED to? Hashem doesnt need our praises other than as a reflection of how we treat others. It all starts at home. – JJLL Aug 21 '13 at 4:48
Which Rabbi Miller? Rabbi Isaac Miller? Rabbi Adam Miller? Rabbi Menashe Miller? – Double AA Aug 21 '13 at 4:58
Rabbi Avigdor Miller of Chaim Berlin and Bais Yaakov fame. – JJLL Aug 26 '13 at 19:41

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