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an attitude of gratitude

11/22/2022 05:15:58 PM


Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

I’ve always enjoyed Thanksgiving, a uniquely American holiday that has traces of a religious origin, yet is infused with ever-evolving American traditions. But as time has transpired, the origins based upon giving thanks have birthed too much commercialism.  I recognize that there are so many helpers in our country who cannot be home to celebrate Thanksgiving, and I am grateful for them and thank them for all that they do. I also am pleased to read that more and more stores will be closed on Thanksgiving, so that their employees can also celebrate, as they should be able to do so.

I lament the loss of the foundation of Thanksgiving, our obligation to give thanks, or, as Sterling K. Brown wrote, “always have an attitude of gratitude”. While it is commendable for a nation to reserve one day a year for all citizens to give thanks, one day is insufficient. An “attitude of gratitude” teaches us that it must be a daily practice. Having an “attitude of gratitude” changes our behavior towards incorporating the essence of Thanksgiving every single day. When we make it a regular practice to start each day with a short bracha – thank you God for your manifold gifts today – we recognize how fortunate we are every single day. We then develop empathy for those less fortunate, and can identify meaningful ways to help those in need, perhaps even those bereft of the ability to acknowledge any blessing from God. This might be the greatest gift we can offer another human being – the restoration of faith in humanity and a reason to thank God.

We have the capacity to solve many of the ills of society, if only we possessed the will to do so. God endowed us with the tools; if only we would use them wisely. We have created weapon systems of destruction. Can we not create a system to end food insecurity or homelessness, just to mention two out of many? We can sit at our Thanksgiving tables and proclaim “there but for the grace of God go I”, but is that sufficient?

If you are privileged to gather with family and friends this Thanksgiving, it would be a perfect day to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. If you are able to restore or plant that in another, what a gift indeed!

May your Thanksgiving be joyous and meaningful.

Fri, December 9 2022 15 Kislev 5783