Thanksgiving

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

The first words we say in the morning are “Modeh ani”– I am grateful. When the Amida is repeated the prayer leader recites everything on behalf of the congregations save the modim passage — the prayer of thanks. Our lives are filled with blessings to recite — over food, over experiences, over nature, over one another — and each is an expression of thanks to God.

Gratitude is not an expression of satisfaction: you can be grateful and still believe that things are broken. Being grateful is not a state reserved for the good times of life alone. It is a disposition, not a judgment of your situation. We are grateful because we are alive, because each day unfolds with possibility, because to be grateful is to recognize how much in this world has been freely given to us even when things are tough.

Thanksgiving is a beautiful holiday in its spirit and accords with the deepest wisdom of the Jewish tradition. For all that God has given us, for the sun of the day and the dark of night and our hope for tomorrow, we give thanks.

(Rabbi David Wolpe is the senior rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles.)

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