Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Every day can be Thanksgiving - Tuesday Kavvanah, 11/22/2011

Thanksgiving is a non-denominational American holiday of gratitude, a sentiment that Jews know well.  The very first statement that we customarily make upon waking is the following:

מודֶה אֲנִי לְפָנֶיךָ מֶלֶךְ חַי וְקַיָּם. שֶׁהֶחֱזַרְתָּ בִּי נִשְׁמָתִי בְּחֶמְלָה. רַבָּה אֱמוּנָתֶךָ
Modeh (for women, modah) ani lefanekha melekh hai veqayyam, shehehezarta bi nishmati behemlah, rabbah emunatekha
I am grateful to You, living, enduring King, for restoring my soul to me in compassion.  You are faithful beyond measure.

The Talmud (Yerushalmi Berakhot 1a) tells us that sleep is one-sixtieth of death; when we wake, we should be grateful that we have returned to being 100% alive.  This short statement, which seems to have first appeared in a siddur / prayerbook in 1695 (very recent compared to most other Jewish prayers), captures an essential theme: that nothing should be taken for granted, and that life is a gift that we are continually given every day. 

Thanksgiving is an annual event, but we wake up every morning.  Give thanks!

Rabbi Seth Adelson

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