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Vayetze 5781 ~ Nov. 27, 2020

One of the great virtues that we learn from Rachel in this week’s Torah reading is the concept of “wanting to find a reason to give thanksgiving to God.” What an amazing concept!

The thought is one that is not actually written in the Torah, but is based on her sister Leah’s declaration praising Hashem on the birth of her fourth and final son Judah: This time I will praise the Lord.” (Genesis 29:35) Rachel is despondent that unlike her sister, she has not given birth to a child.  One can only assume that she not only wants to provide a legacy through a child of her own, but to be able to offer words of thanksgiving to Hashem, in a similar pattern to her sister Leah. The Torah shares her pain, her envy of her sister, and her angst with her husband Jacob.  Yet, it also shares with us that Rachel is desirous of the ability to sing praise to Hashem, despite her current situation in life.  As we read through this week’s Torah portion, we actually learn from both sisters equally the concept of what giving Thanksgiving should be all about.

While this year many of us will not be hosting “in person” Thanksgiving dinners, I am hoping that we will all connect either  by phone, Facetime or Zoom. Needless to say, our hope is that in the near future, we will be able to resume joining with family and/or friends around a festive dinner table.  In the meantime, we should be grateful that modern technology allows us to connect with one another.

A favorite thanksgiving prayer of mine is found in the Amidah, the Silent Devotion. “Modima anachnu Lach,” “We are grateful to You Hashem” for the blessings You have provided to our family.  Despite the fact that we may not be joining together with our families and friends this year, perhaps our prayers should include ones for our continued wellbeing, that of our country, that of our world, and for every human being. As we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, perhaps we might begin with the word modim, we are grateful for the present, despite the despondency that we may feel of an empty table this Thanksgiving, and a hope that next year we will once again meet in person, similar to our reciting at the Passover Seder, “Next year….”

Here is my prayer for this year:

Modim,” we are grateful for a hope that we all have for the future, not only for ourselves, but for every single human being in this world.  May the prayers that we offer of gratitude for the first responders, the teachers, the medical professionals and workers, those who continue to staff the shops and institutions that provide us with sustenance, may they not be diminished by time, may they be constantly on our lips.  As our world has come together in a race to find a means to control and perhaps eradicate Covid 19, we pray that the lesson is not lost . May our world continue to thrive by supporting each other, rather than be diminished by hatred, animosity, bias, and the wars that we have experienced. We are grateful to you, dear God, for the farmers and the scientists; the compassionate and the caring.  May our prayers be answered for those who need our prayers for wellbeing.  Modim, we are thankful that we can not only offer the words, but understand how they bring hope to the individuals in need of them.  Instill within us an optimism for health and wellbeing, both spiritually and physically.  May You respond to our prayers through our own actions and through the miracles that daily surround us.  Amen.

On behalf of the board of directors and our office professionals, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving with all of its trimmings.

In gratitude,

Rabbi K

Sat, June 25 2022 26 Sivan 5782