I often tell my school aged children that you can never say “please” or “thank you” too much. It doesn’t get too old and no one will ever fault you for giving thanks and showing appreciation. Actually, the more sense of appreciation and thanks one gives, the better. There is no better time to reinforce this message for ourselves and our children than Thanksgiving.
These values associated with Thanksgiving are also core Jewish values. Actually, there is a blessing for almost everything in the Jewish tradition to express our gratitude. Before and after eating food, there is a blessing thanking God for bringing forth bread from the earth and providing a world that will sustain us and satiate us through the food we eat. When we see wonders of nature there is a blessing that exists thank God and showing appreciation for the beauty of our world. We say blessings to mark special occasions such as when we buy new things or have a new experience. When a loved one dies, we say a special prayer called kaddish to honor their memory and to affirm life.
One of the prayers in our daily liturgy reads, “We thank You (God) and praise You morning, noon and night for Your miracles which daily attend us and for Your wondrous kindness.” Some might not consider the daily occurrence of the sun rising and setting or the seasons or the air we breathe to be miraculous, but my guess is that most of us do not think about these things on a regular basis.
All of these Jewish blessings and prayers are designed and provided to us by the rabbis in our tradition so that we don’t take our lives for granted. Actually, the rabbis tell us that we should attempt to say one hundred blessings each day. So, as Americans sit around the table enjoying Turkey, pumpkin pie and all the other traditional Thanksgiving foods, I encourage us all to not miss this special time to show our thanks and appreciation for many things. Makes a list of top ten things of which your family is appreciative. Go around the table and give the opportunity for everyone to share their thoughts. Do a community service project for someone who is as not blessed as you may be. Whatever works best for you, just don’t forget to express your thanks. Ken yehi ratzon. So may it be God’s will!
Rabbi Brad Horwitz