During the course of an online discussion of Jewish practice in the United States, someone asked the resident rabbi if it was “kosher” for Jews to celebrate Thanksgiving. His terse but memorable reply: “Sure — but we do that every day.”
His point, of course, was that gratitude is not only an essential part of the Jewish daily liturgy, but also of our lives. However, like most ideals, many of us find ourselves honoring gratitude more in the breach than in the moment; we face so many irritations (exacerbated by email, cellphones, Blackberries, traffic, infotainment, talking-heads, talking points and static cling) that the end of any given day often finds us more grumbly than grateful.
But the ability to look past all that is crucial — to put aside inconvenience and indifference, to appreciate the countless miracles (astronomical, geological, meteorological, biological and technological) which have seamlessly and inexorably combined to bring us to this moment. So as we gather tomorrow for the feast modeled by its founders on the Jewish holiday of Sukkot*, in addition to giving thanks for the One who taught us about turkey (and the skill with which to cook it), let’s also give thanks for our ability to give thanks.
And if one day of gratitude leads to another, and another … we’ll have that much more to be thankful for at this time next year.
* No, really — for example, see about midway down this page (just under the first blessing).