Birthday Blessings

Post by Melissa

Today is my 30th birthday, and a great blessing in life.

A few days ago, I posted on twitter about my upcoming birthday, and a dear friend replied with “celebrate turning 30! So many are not so lucky <3” – and she is right. Every year, my favorite birthday email is the one I get from Gift of Life reminding me to update my contact information so that they can find me should I ever be a match to give someone else a chance at having another birthday.

This year, I want to dedicate my birthday to all those who have not been blessed with thirty years of life. I have had friends and family who did not reach this milestone, and others who are battling daily to ensure they will. This year, I want to be sure to stop and be grateful for the blessing of my life.

They say its not the years in your life but the life in your years that really matters, and I’m not so sure thats true.

I have been blessed with thirty years of life. That is a mere 25% of the goal of 120 put forth to us by Moshe’s longevity. Rationally, I realize that I will probably not live to 120, but I’d be pretty darn happy with 90 and I’m only a third of the way there! I feel like it is “old” but in reality, I have so much more living to do. I have so many blog posts to write, so many things to learn and teach, and so many friends to still meet! I want to have both years in my life and life in my years, because really, what is one without the other?

There is a prayer which we say every morning when we awake thanking Hashem for returning our soul to us. We recognize the beauty and the blessing in every day of life.  But how many of us really think about the words we sleepily say? Every day, every month, every year of life is such a blessing and we have to take time to appreciate all the blessings, small and large, that make it a full cycle.

I am blessed to be married to my best friend (who proposed four years ago today), to have an amazing family, to have phenomenal friends all over the world, and to be healthy. My birthday wish is I can have these blessings for many years to come, and that I can take more time to recognize the blessing that is inherent in every day of life.

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Thanks and Gratitude

According to the illustrious Miriam Webster, thanks and gratitude are very similar. However, I would have to disagree.

Post by Melissa

I feel that “thanks” is thrown about so casually and its so simple to say “thanks for your help/support/friendship/etc” – but how often do we truly express gratitude to those around us and to Hashem. To stop and really reflect on all the blessings in our life?

Personally, I don’t do it enough.  So while I can wax prophetic about all the reasons I dislike Thanksgiving, this one I can celebrate.

I can take a moment to express my gratitude to my beyond amazing friends and family, to having a fulfilling (even at its most stressful) job, for my (generally good) health, and for each and every one of you.  This blog started on such a whim (seriously, we should tell you all about how it really happened one day), and it has grown to be such an integral part of my life.

So this Thanksgiving, I hope we are all able to really look at the word, and seize the opportunities to give thanks – for all that we have.

Count your blessings

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?