From Cantor Lee
It has been three weeks since my daughter’s wedding and I am still flying high! My daughter is happy and I adore my beautiful new daughter in law!For this joy alone, I am beyond grateful! But there is even more that is taking me into the higher realms! People are still trying to describe what happened during the wedding weekend. “It was Magical.” “I was transformed.” “There was the presence of an electrical charge.” Rabbi David and I can only say that the heavens opened up to allow the in-pouring of the Divine! And I am still feeling this in-pouring!
It was as though 170 people were taken to a magical fairy land and each given a spark of Love Energy to not only further open our hearts but to touch everyone that we meet. This can certainly make the mother of the bride continue to fly! With Thanksgiving tomorrow here I can only say, Thank you to my daughter, Rachel. Thank you to my new daughter, Marissa. Thank you G-d!!
From Rabbi David aka The Reb
Another Amen!! I agree with my beautiful wife!
Now on to my thoughts about Thanksgiving and The Power of Gratitude:
The American idea of setting aside a holiday for the sole purpose of showing appreciation for what we have is more than just noble. The classic explanation of its origin has to do with the Pilgrims’ appreciation of their life in the new land and the hope of surviving harsh winters to come.
This idea is not strange to us, the Jewish People, at all. Setting time aside to rejoice in life and our traditions is a central theme in Jewish life. Moreover, our tradition encourages expression of appreciation on a daily basis. We are given the opportunity to express gratitude many times during the course of the day. We use a special “spiritual instrument” to do exactly that. We call it, a blessing.
Jewish scholars in every generation are instructed us to say at least 100 blessings a day, every day of our life. Imagine that… Many of these “expressions” are in fact pretty routine and are embedded in our prayer book. There are blessings for almost every aspect of our life from waking up in the morning, washing, taking care of our hygiene needs, blessings over different foods, encountering different natural phenomenon – and these are just for starters.
To help us reach the 100 recommended blessings, the great rabbis of the past instituted a series of 91 blessings to be recited as part of the morning, afternoon and evening services. The other nine are recited at different occasions during the day as they present themselves.
But why? If I was G-D, I would be a little taken back by this barrage of constant blessings. (OK, I get it. You appreciate your life and everything in it. You don’t have to constantly thank me … I get it the first time… ) Maybe part of the reason for this constant appreciation for the marvels of life is to benefit us for our own well being.
Reciting a blessing, or for that matter any expression of appreciation regardless of its religious content, creates a powerful positive energy around us, helping us with our physical and psychological health. That is the reason why the Jewish tradition teaches that blessings or any expression of appreciation are like boomerangs; they leave our soul aiming for others and come back to benefit us many times over.
Never taking any part of our life for granted is not only a way for a healthy life, it is also a foundation to a healthy society which encourages nurturing relationships in all of our social circles, our immediate and extended family circles as well as our co- workers and acquaintance circles.
I am often amazed by the wisdom of the Jewish scholars of the past who instituted these expressions of constant appreciation as part of our Jewish fabric. The Jewish narrative regarding the holiday of Thanksgiving is that the Pilgrims took the idea from the Jewish holiday of Succot. The holiday of Succot which is celebrated at the end of the agricultural year is designated in the Torah specifically as a holiday for thanking G-D for a fruitful and rainy winter in our land of Israel. It is a holiday in which we are literally commanded to rejoice and appreciate our life and our environment. This of course is part of the “Jewish Boomerang” principle: the more we appreciate the rain and the crop of the previous year, the more rain and richer crop we will have next year.
May we all be blessed with a Happy Thanksgiving!