A Word from Rabbi Schulman - 11/17/17

I have Thanksgiving on my mind since we will be celebrating this special day in just a week. Part of what I appreciate about the holiday is its universality. Regardless of faith or creed, everyone can affirm the essence of Thanksgiving which is to express gratitude for all the blessings in our lives.

Judaism certainly teaches us to give thanks not only on the fourth Thursday in November but every day of the year. When we wake in the morning, we thank God for our soul and our bodies, for the ability to study Torah, and for the nourishment we receive when we eat. Indeed, throughout the course of a day a Jew should recite 100 blessings.

Our prayer book is filled with personal prayers of thanksgiving as well as communal gratitude for home and country. Offering a blessing raises our consciousness that God, and not ourselves, is the source of our blessings.

In addition to the prayer book, the Book of Psalms can be a wonderful resource for finding voice for our thanksgiving. In particular, Psalms 67, 117, 126, 145, and 150 are filled with expressions of joy and praise.

However, offering words of thanksgiving is not limited to scripture. Words from the heart are just as acceptable as the blessings expressed in our prayer books. Debbie Perlman for many years was the Resident Psalmist at Beth Emet The Free Synagogue in Evanston, Illinois. Though she experienced many medical challenges during her life, which sadly ended at the age of 51, she expressed in contemporary verse the expressions of her soul.

Here is a psalm by Debbie Perlman entitled “A Hymn of Praise:”

Hallelujah!

Give thanks to the Eternal!

Give thanks for the journey,

And for the destination;

Give thanks for the testing,

And for the completion.

Hallelujah!

Give thanks to the Eternal!

Give thanks for the rehearsal,

And for the performance;

Give thanks for the kneading,

And for the good sweet bread.

Set the path before us

As an adventure;

Make our steps sure

With Your kindness.

Hallelujah!

Give thanks to the Eternal!

Give thanks for the washing,

And for the folded clothes;

Give thanks for the sweeping,

And for the cleared stoop.

Hallelujah!

Give thanks to the Eternal!

Give thanks for the research,

And for the publication;

Give thanks for the scales,

And for the sonata.

Set the going as an ending

That we might find delight in our days;

Set the ending as a goal

That our lives might reflect Your glory.

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