I wrote this drash for a work meeting but wanted to share it with you all as well… Whether or not you celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you take this time to count your blessings…
Jewish celebrations of Thanksgiving date back to the 18 century including a classic work of gratitude and thanksgiving in a Jewish context from Rav Gershom Seixas’ Thanksgiving drasha for the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of NY.
The essence of Jewish prayer is to thank God for what we have been given and the Rabbis taught that we are to say 100 blessings a day. Talk about being thankful! What would your life be like if you had to search for a 100 things to be thankful for every day? It certainly would cultivate a sense of appreciation for the world around us. Saying 100 blessings would help us realize that no matter how difficult life can be, we all have many good things such simply being alive, our health, our friends and our loved ones.
Since it may be hard to come up with 100 blessings each day, the Rabbis suggested a few. Upon seeing lightening, one may say: “Blessed are you, who made the world.” When you see the ocean, you can say: “Blessed are you, who made the great sea.” And upon seeing fruit trees in bloom, one may say: “Blessed are you, who leaves nothing lacking in the world, who created good creatures and beautiful trees, for the benefit of all people.” And what about the other 97 blessings? A Rabbi who’s blog I read suggest that we offer the following words: “Baruch Atah AdHashem, Blessed are you God,” and then insert whatever we have to be thankful for. On Thanksgiving, perhaps it would be this blessing: “Blessed are you God, who has given me a warm home, a loving family, and this glorious meal.”
One of my Rabbis takes it one step further by suggesting the inclusion of a short dvar Torah at the Thanksgiving meal – regardless of whether your guests are Jewish or not.
After all, Thanksgiving involves family, food, and maybe a little guilt. How could it not be a Jewish holiday?