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The חובות הלבבות (in the beginning of the פתיחה to שער עבודת אלקים) writes, that one does not need to show gratitude to someone who did him a favor, if the favor was not intended.

ואם תגיע לנו שום טובה על ידי מי שלא כיון בה אלינו, יסתלקו מעלינו חיובי ההודאה לו ואין אנו חייבין בה

"should we obtain any benefit through one who had no such intention, the duties of gratitude to that person would cease, and we are under no such obligation."

How would the חובות הלבבות explain the well known מדרש (Quoted in רש"י שמות ח/יב and ז/יט) that Moshe could not hit the water or the earth by the first three plagues, as an expression of gratitude that they saved him when he was born, and when he killed the מצרי.

Why was it necessary to show gratitude to the water and the earth if they had no intention to save Moshe?

  • 1. Who said that they had no intention to save him? 2. Who said what Moshe did was necessary? Perhaps it was Lifnim Mishuras Hadin! – רבות מחשבות Jun 4 '18 at 3:18
  • @רבותמחשבות - See Sichos Musur from Rav Chaim Shmuelvitz תשל"ב מאמר ל"ב. He understood this Medrash to be talking about where there was no intention, and that it is not Lifnim Mishuras HaDin. – פרי זהב Jun 4 '18 at 4:09
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Hashem created the world in order to benefit man. תכלית הבריאה להיטיב לברואיו -

The purpose of everything which was created is to serve man. (Berachos 6b). Only man has Bechira to choose not do do Hashem's will. Thus, anything done by any other creation is for the sole purpose of man's benefit.

Therefore man must have הכרת הטוב and show gratitude to any creation which has given him benefit.

The statement of the Chovos Halvavos is not relevant in regard to benefits received from creations other than man, since the purpose of everything done by all other creations is always to benefit the man. Thus Moshe's Gratitude to the water and the sand is not in contradiction with the rule of the Chovos Halevavos.

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