The Matzav Rant: The Pathetic Thank You Card


thank-you-cardBy Shmuel Miskin,

I recently bought a sefer as a present for a bar mitzvah bochur and was quite touched when, just three days after I had dropped off the present, I was perusing my mail and I came upon an envelope sent by the bar mitzvah bochur which I assumed contained a thank you card for the present. When I opened the envelope, I saw that, indeed, it was a thank you card. My admiration and satisfaction, however, disappeared in a second when I opened the card, only to discover that it was a preprinted note, in Lashon Kodesh, that had obviously been stuffed into an envelope and mailed immediately upon receipt of the sefer I had dropped off at the bar mitzvah boy’s home.

How much thought could have gone into placing a card with a generic, preprinted lashon, into an envelope and placing a stamp on it?

When I was a bar mitzvah bochur, I sat for days, weeks actually, writing thank you cards to each person who gave me a present in honor of my reaching the gil hamitzvos. My hand ached and I did not particularly enjoy it, but I knew that I was doing the right thing and I knew that the recipient of the cards would appreciate receiving them. Indeed, if my memory serves me well, I got such positive feedback from my simple thank you cards. Each card was personalized, thanking the person for the specific gift they gave. And, as per my parents’ instructions, the cards had to be written in a legible manner. There was no consideration at any point to use pre-printed cards. No way. My parents made sure I understood that if someone takes the time and money to buy a gift, I am to respond in a personal, meaningful manner. No shortcuts. No meaningless gestures.

I was thus so disappointed to receive a meaningless pre-printed thank you card. The bar mitzvah bochur likely wouldn’t even be able to tell me what the card says.

We live in a pathetic time, when the generation of children isn’t expected to do anything. G-d forbid to have the boy sit and write cards himself! G-d forbid to actually personalize it and thank the gift-giver for the specific present given!

Better wait several weeks to mail a letter than to send out a preprinted, pre-fab card that has no warmth or meaning to it. That’s the way I feel. Actually, better not send out any card at all than to send out a generic, thoughtless card, “abi yotzeh tzu zein.”

We expect nothing from our kids. We can’t even have them write thank you cards the way they should. Apparently, something catastrophic would happen if we made them do things the way they should be done.

In one word: pathetic.

{Shmuel Newscenter}


  1. Take a chill. When was the last time you received a hand written letter from the countless organizations collecting tzdakah? Who said handwriting is the only way? You are receiving a thank you card from the bar mitzvah/newly wed couple. A thank you is a thank you. Yes I understand you and I wrote thank you cards but now that technology is there why not? Oh it is not the same effort. OK but it is a thank you. Just chill..

  2. I hear the writer’s point, but it is still better than no thank you card at all. Is a hand-written card an absolute chiyyuv? While not the highest madreiga of hakoras hatov, the printed card licheora is a basic kiyyum of it nevertheless.

  3. G-d forbid that bochurim should receive instruction in proper English spelling, grammar, sentence structure, etc… so they would feel capable of writing a simple thank you!!!!

  4. My wife teaches kindergarden in a local yeshiva.When she complains to me that the kids never say please or thank you.I tell her “you are teaching the spoiled brats of spoiled brats.

  5. i agree with the letter writer very much.. today most of kids really are not made to put an effort into thanking people, only interested in what gift they got. like you, i made my boys sit and write each thank you card and it took a long long time, but hopefully they learned something from it. I dont think that thank you cards should be viewed as a basic chiyuv, it should be viewed as menshlichkeit…. but that too is slowly disappearing…..

  6. this is pashut. common courtesy is to send a written thank you card (or at least have a bar mitzvah boy write one very nice standard thank you and use that for copies).
    But this example is just a sample of how people are brought up.
    The rant shouldn’t be about how the thank you cards were, but about mentchlichkeit in general, and we all know what is right and wrong anyway, it’s just a shame that so many people either don’t have it themselves, or get lazy when it entails teaching it to their children.

  7. The fact that there are adults coming to this young boy’s defense shows how low our society has sunk.

    Parents bought these cards for there son – yet another sign of parents enabling and pampering their children and not instilling them with any sense of duty…. something sorely lacking in this “es kumpt mir” society.

    The giver spent time choosing the right gift and delivering it. A bit of effort in the thank you card would be the appropriate way to be mechanech a Bar Mitzvah.

  8. Well, I agree with the author of this post. That was what I was expected to do also,and what I expected of my son. However, I’m ashamed to say that the task was so daunting I never completed my thank-yous for wedding gifts (married 1987), and I’m pretty sure my son never completed his thank yous either. So, we are both pathetic. Still, hakaras hatov is a vital trait. When my kids receive a gift from an aunt or similar relative, they are required to pick up the phone and say thank you. That’s a start. Good luck with getting people to do it the old fashioned way (but it does go far in people’s hearts).

  9. i did not write any the person who gave a gift does not anticipate a card i f that was the case i would have many enemys and would be mad at many people i would not ever expect a note just say thank you at the affair

  10. Totally agree with the writer. We are raising an overindulged generation with a feeling of “ess kumt mir”- we deserve to have it all! When something does not fall into our laps the minute we decide we need it we dramatically declare a CRISIS and set up committees etc. to deal with the unbelievable problem of lack of instant gratification. Teaching our children basic decent Hakoras Hatov will hopefully lead to their eventual understanding of how infinite should be our Hakoras Hatov to Hashem, and how we should not take for granted the infinite Chesed that He bestows upon us.

  11. You said it yourself. You spent a large amount of time to write your note.

    B”H today this task can be done quickly to ensure the boy don’t waste a moment in Bittul Torah.

  12. everyone should make the effort it takes to write thank you notes, bar-mitzvah and wedding included. If people take the time and money to send a gift it should be the least you should do. My son just had his bar-mitzvah and half the cards were in the mail before the week was up. the other half went a week or two later. there is no excuse except lazy parents raising even lazier kids!

  13. Handwritten notes are – of course – more personal and meaningful.

    What I take issue with is the writer setting up the boy as a representative of all bar-mitzvah boys today, and he sets himself up as the model of all children in his day. This is overly simplistic and incorrect. I should hope people recognize the straw-man argument.

    You sound like one of those stereotypical grumpy old men (“back in my day …”)

  14. lets hear it from all the Crazy’s out there, its a pleasure reading your stupidity & nonsense,

    i have bigger & more importent problems to tackle than this Meshigas.

    let them keep coming its entertainment to me.

  15. this is a lazy excuse for appropriate behavior – nobody is doing our kids any favor by letting them get away with this – and no i don’t think you should ‘take a chill’ and worry about ‘negative’ connotations or that the child might have ‘ADD’ tendencies and will go off the derech because you forced him to write thank you cards………….It is proper and appropriate to write thank you notes, they should be personalized, and if you have to use technology then preprint the envelopes, but the notes should be handwritten.
    You don’t do kids a favor by letting them slack off on appropriate behavior.

  16. Would it be so hard to be dan lekaf zchus. I wonder how many people are angry at the self righteous article writer for things he/she forgot to thank them for! Picking on a 13 year old boy?! Get a life!

  17. Totally on the mark, author. This is the trend of the day,,,,chilled, laid back, no pressure, easy come and easy go and then SHOCK when the real world is met face to face. It would be an appropriate idea to have the barmitzvah boy sign each card, thanks,,,,,yankela (under the printed poem) and Perhaps to stamp and address a few. Many adults do not know how to address an envelope, and are not sure what the 3 lines are for. Why not use the opportunity as a learning experience or spend some time in 6th grade, writing and composing thank you cards…

  18. to comment#10

    if the child does have a learning issue or writing disability you can always prewrite it for your child to copy. All children still need to be taught manners.

  19. pathetic is this response! I bet if people knew how you reacted to this they wouldn’t ever want you to give them gifts in the first place!

  20. Yes, writing a note by hand takes time. This is exactly what we do not give our children. Long school hours, home-work, mishmars – when does the boy have time to write a note, much less get to know his parents and siblings, help around the house, or just plain be a kid?

    At least he was able to send a pre-printed card (or more likely, his mother did). When does a bar mitzvah boy in our yeshivas have time to do anything other than schoolwork? And of course if he isn’t tops in school, then he becomes a “kid at risk.” I’d rather have the preprinted card and know that the boy wasn’t overwhelmed by the time needed to write a note.

  21. I see the writer’s point. I personally have handwriting that’s difficult to read (not due to a lack of trying). When I write a thank you card, for any occasion, I write something different and specific for each person, but I print it.

  22. This author sounds like he gives the gift “expecting” some lavish thank you. One should give a gift out of a feeling of love and friendship and not care if they get a thank you. Besides, when you gave the boy the gift I’m sure he said thank you and his parents did as well. A card is just extra. These days a Bar mitzvah can have 300 or more attendees including those who walk in and don’t sit down…If it takes approximately 10 minutes to hand write and personalize each one that’s 3000 minutes or 50 hours!!!! It will take him weeks!!! I don’t know which kid and parents have so much FREE TIME! Most do not!

  23. To the commentator above who wrote that spending time writing letters is bittul torah, I say, “Derech eretz kadmah latorah!” Did you not grow up reading gedolim stories and take note at the great personal bein adam lachaveiro middos they exhibited? Ask any gadol “should a 13 year old boy write thank you letters, ie, show hakaras hatov, or not waste one second of torah study?” i assure you a gadol would say – middos first! What is his torah worth if he is not a baal middos????

  24. to #28, most boys do not receive 300 separate gifts. In addition, it does NOT take 10 minutes to write a thank you card. Most Simchas that I attended the average was 50-75 gifts mostly from immediate relatives who are not expecting an actual card rather a personal phone call.

  25. Why does this need to be the Complaint Board? Have you not received an exceptionally well-written Thank You card in the past from another Bar Mitzva boy? Why is it that so many postings focus on negative experiences? Can’t the same point be made by acknowledging and highlighting an exceptional experience. If you would like to straighten out society, please begin with yourself. Once you are perfected please move on to those close to you and then reach out to the rest of us.

    Why rant and view the world so pathetically? There is so much beauty surrounding us that we need to seek out, build, expound and expand upon.

    I attended the Bar Mitzva of a fine young boy from an exemplary mishpacha of baalei middos who are raising children with beatiful middos. I gave a gift at the Bar Mitzva, have no expectation of a rightful entitlement to a handwritten Thank You card. I’ve gotten some in the past ranging from pre-printed unsigned, signed, partially handwritten, personalized, sloppy, illegible, legible, to well written, sometimes right away or even up to a year later. Guess what? It doesn’t matter. Appreciate what you get and learn to stop complaining about what you don’t get. Set reasonable expectations for yourself and your children, not for the rest of society!

    Mazel Tov on the Bar Mitzva and appreciate that the family kept track of the fact that you gave a gift. Some attendees probably did not and I hope you have no pathetic negative thoughts to those that felt they couldn’t give a gift, even though they felt compelled to attend the simcha.

  26. I cant even believe the person writing this article had so much time on his hands to write such a long article on such stupidity. These “pre-printed” thank you cards have been around since before I got married 15 years ago… (Is this really the first time you got one?!?) What is such a big deal, you should be happy that you got a Thank You card altogether, I’ve been to (many) simchos and havent received any! So, get on and move on to more important things in life!

  27. Yes, the world is changing and morals, customs and traditions also change. B”H, that you have the time to rant and/or answer a complaint similar to ones that our parents may have said about the generation of their children.

  28. #9 You left out that you spent hard earned money! I agree with all you posters that it would be so much nicer if they were hand written and what a lesson the bochur would learn from the experience! It IS the right thing to do! HOWEVER, today’s kids can’t write legibly. And that is a complete separate issue! Perhaps it is more bakavod’dik to send a preprinted one – if the kid knows how to address the envelope! Perhaps if he were to address the card – Dear Mr. and Mrs….. and add one line of brocha in his own hanwriting to complement the card; not a bad idea!

    I once met a yungerman at the post office who seemed to be in a harried state of mind. I asked him about it and he responded that he was rushing to get out the thank you cards for their chasuna gifts because his wife was already having labor contractions and he wanted to get them out before the birth of their first baby!

    Moshe Rabbeinu had Hakoras Hatov at age 80 and couldn’t do the first 3 makkos because of events that happened 80 years earlier! And let’s educate our kids to say ‘THANK YOU’ and not “NO PROBLEM’ instead, as is so prevalent today!

  29. I am a very strong believer in thanking people for their gifts and kind wishes. I personally sent out many cards for kiddush flowers, cake etc. for my son’s aufruf.

  30. I am so disturbed that you are complaining about this, I wouldve called up the boys parents and said “Wow you are doing an amazing job, I got a Thank You note in a record time, 3 days after I dropped the gift off!” that shows hakaros hatov, who cares if he PERSONALLY wrote it or not, it as after all serving the same purpose, THANKING YOU for the gift!!!

  31. this thank you card idea is nonsense. the child writing the card becomes resentful that he has to sit writing them and then he forgets the giver. it is a meaningless formality. if the person doesn’t appreciate a gift do you want an empty thanks? the purpose is for the child to recognize and appreciate each gift that was received i think it’s more important that he thanks the giver the next time he sees them and that when he uses the gift he thinks of the giver. the best part of my gifts is that when i use them i think this is a gift from so and so and it’s so useful etc.

  32. Ya guys should all get urselves a life!!

    Whoever responds is pathetic !! (didnt ever bother going through all comments)
    Cant we do something miore productive in all this time?

  33. I absolutly agree. I have gotten this a few times from family members, and I told my husband that the next wedding invitation that comes from that family iy’H, I will just send a photo copy of a check:)

  34. Maybe the kid just had a bad handwriting and was embarrassed to wright them by hand so he asked his mother to buy him printed ones
    Why does everyone have to jump to and analyze everything someone else does analyze what you do and mind your own buisness

  35. This is an excellent article about an extremely important issue that was said not a minute too soon.

    I was privileged to attend Yeshiva Gedola-Merkaz HaTorah-Tiferes Mordechai in Montreal, Quebec, when the Rosh Yeshiva was Rav Mordechai Weinberg, ZT’L. One of the Sichos Mussar that Rav Weinberg gave was on the subject of the Halacha that the men of the wicked nations Amon and Moav can never enter Klall Yisroel. He elaborated on the reason that the Torah and Chazal give for this prohibition, that these two bad nations did not have any HaKores HaTov – appreciation – to the Am Yisroel, whose ancestor, Avroham Avinu had very greatly helped and virtually raised and even saved the life of their ancestor, Avroham’s nephew, Lot.

    Rav Weinberg explained that to have HaKores HaTov – to have and show proper appreciation – to those who do good for you, is a fundamental characteristic of human thought and human behavior. Therefore, if someone does not have it, HE IS NOT A MENTCH – HE IS NOT A HUMAN BEING!!!!

  36. (Continuation of my previous comment #42)

    While attending a Sheva B’rachos, one of the speakers related an awesome story, which, in a stinging way, brings out this point.

    One of the (I think it was) Russian Czars was considering the purchase of a very large exquisite diamond. All of his jewlery experts had given their approval; however, he still wanted to hear the opinion of someone else. One of the convicts in the royal prison then was a Jewish man (I do not remember if he was also a great Talmid Chacham) whom the czar knew was very smart and had a very good keen “eye” for judging these type of prospects.

    So the Jewish man was taken from his prison cell and brought to the royal court. When he was shown the proposed diamond, he examined it very carefully, and then he declared that even though it looked very beautiful, the stone was fake! He challenged the people there to test it by tapping it with an instrument; if the stone was really a diamond, the tapping would not damage it; if it was just glass though, the tapping would make it crack. So they tapped it, and it shattered into worthless glass shards.

    After that, the Jewish man was returned to his cell.

    A while latter, the czar was considering the purchase of a special large exquisite horse for him to ride on. All of his horse experts had given their approval; again though, he wanted to check with the Jewish man. So again, the Jewish man was taken from his prison cell and brought to the royal court. When he was shown the proposed horse, he looked him all over very carefully; finally, he declared that the horse was indeed, quite stately looking. However,
    the particular horse had a certain insanity: that whenever someone would attempt to ride on him, after a few minutes, he would suddenly jump up, violently throw the rider off onto the ground, and then violently trample the rider to death!!

    Of course, everyone present was shocked to hear such a heavy accusation and were wondering how they could even test it. They finally decided that what they would do is to take one of the convicts from their “death row” — whom they had anyway decreed had to die for his crimes — and have him ride the horse! So they did this. To everyone’s horror, it was exactly as the Jewish man had predicted: after a few minutes of the ride, the horse suddenly threw the convict off onto the ground, and then, amidst chilling screams and spattering blood, the horse sadistically kicked and beat and jumped on the man until he was dead.

    After that, the Jewish man was again returned to his cell.

    A while latter, the czar was making a big party. At one point he ordered that that Jewish man be again brought to see him. When the Jewish man was thus brought to the party, this time the czar asked him to give him an evaluation of — himself! “What, do you think of me?”

    So the Jewish man looked very intently at the czar; after a long period of deep thought, he replied:

    “You are a very intelligent and wise ruler; however, you are not of the royal blood!!”

    Amid the horrified gasps of everyone, the shocked and deeply shaken czar excused himself from the ballroom; he immediately went to the section of the castle where his mother, the former queen, was residing. He openly confronted her with the terrible accusation; she was thus forced to admit to him the truth: (Rachmona Litzlan, Lo Alaynu – G-D Forbid; it should never happen to us!) extremely, extremely tragically, she had defiled herself; he was not a legitimate child.

    The crushed czar returned to the ballroom and simply asked the Jewish man: “How did you know????”

    The Jewish man replied: “You and your men were all ready to pay (in our currency today, it would probably be a sum of well over a million dollars) for what you thought was a good diamond. When I showed you all that, instead, it was a fraud, I saved you from loosing a gigantic amount of money!! So did you give me a reward? Did you give me a medal? Did you invite me to a nice meal? Did you offer me some money? Did you cancel my sentence and release me from jail? Obviously: NO!!! You just simply sent me right back to my cell!!!”

    “So at that though, I figured that you are simply exceedingly tight with money and a real miser!”

    “Then though came the incident with the horse. Again, you and your men were all ready to pay big money for what you thought was a fine horse. Then I warned you and showed you that this horse was severely dangerous; I not only saved you from loosing a huge amount of money,



    “So for this did you give me any reward? Did you give me any medal? Did you invite me to a nice meal? Did you offer me some money? Did you cancel my sentence and release me from jail? Obviously: NO!!! Again, you just simply sent me right back to my cell!!!”

    “So I realized,