Our recently concluded Thanksgiving holiday gave me the opportunity to enjoy the company of my siblings, whom I don’t get to see that often. For me, the holiday means comfort and joy and, of course, gratitude.
Even if we’re yearning for faraway family or experiencing a general hassle at perpetually busy grocery stores, we can take the opportunity during this season to reflect. As Jews, we can look to our own traditions and texts to illuminate these themes of thanks-giving.
So much of our liturgy is based around gratitude, thanking G-d, the Divine Force, or the Universe for what we have.
It is good to give thanks to G-d
In our Shabbat liturgy, we find Psalm 92. The second verse states: Tov l’hodot l’Adonai, “It is good to give thanks to G-d.”
Thanksgiving appears, right there in our psalms! This simple statement can be an affirmation for us, a reminder that giving thanks — to G-d, to each other, even to ourselves — is such a force for good.
We thank G-d simply for being G-d. In that same way, we thank the people in our lives simply for being themselves.
In the Amidah, every single day during our most central prayer we say, Modim anachnu lach, “We give thanks to You.”
We thank G-d simply for being G-d. In that same way, we thank the people in our lives simply for being themselves. We thank ourselves for simply being.
The morning liturgy provides more blessings
We thank G-d in more complicated ways as well.
In our daily morning liturgy, we find Birkot HaShachar, our morning blessings.
In these blessings, we praise G-d for opening our eyes, giving us strength when we feel weak, making us a part of a Jewish community, making us free.
We praise G-d for opening our eyes, giving us strength when we feel weak, making us a part of a Jewish community, making us free.
When we find ourselves struggling to find something to be thankful for, we have this list ready-made. It’s a perfect method for brainstorming, and it’s an ideal way for us to remember how much we have, even when we may feel as though we are lacking.
No matter how you celebrated Thanksgiving this year, my hope and my prayer for all of us is that we are able to recognize the myriad of gratitudes we have available to us, both in our liturgy and in our lives.
Student Rabbi Rocki Schy will serve UHC Terre Haute during the 2022-23 academic year.