Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because of GRATITUDE. Gratitude is especially spiritual. When we slow down and take the time to articulate the blessings in our lives, we necessarily venture into a higher plane of existence. We transcend our yetzer harah (our inclination toward lustful neediness) to get in touch with our yetzer hatov (our inclination toward the good). We discover the holy amongst the regular.
Gratitude is profoundly spiritual.
As part of a bi-coastal family, I enjoyed the opportunity to twice articulate my gratitude: first, over the phone, to my East Coast family gathered at my brother's home, and again, at our own California dinner table.
7 Reasons Why I Think Thanksgiving is deeply spiritual:
- I spend the week before and after, trying to touch base with members of our congregation who have lost loved ones since last Thanksgiving. A caring community needs to remember those who have an empty seat at their holiday tables. (Passover and Rosh Hashana are also great times to reach out.)
- Thanksgiving food is universally delicious. When the senses (taste buds, smell, sight) are heightened, we recognize the beauty and holiness more).
- I usually get in a deeply restful nap between the meal and dessert. A rested person is more apt to recognize the spiritual.
- We gather family together for a non-rushed, gratitude-filled evening. Spirituality blossoms when we are relaxed.
- We try to open an especially good bottle of wine. (See #2.) The smell of a great wine is as delicious as its taste.
- This rabbi has no responsibilities beyond helping prepare the meal.
- The family gathers for dinner at a normal time because this rabbi does not have to run out to lead services. (See #4)