Judaism and Thanksgiving

From Everyday Spirituality by Rabbi David Teutsch

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is crucial for Americans, who are conditioned to believe that we never have enough, no matter how much we have. Choosing to acknowledge just one blessing each morning is a good way to begin to train the heart and spirit to notice personal blessings and to move from a perspective of a glass half-empty to a glass half-full.

בֶּן זוֹמָא אוֹמֵר, אֵיזֶהוּ חָכָם, הַלּוֹמֵד מִכָּל אָדָם, ... אֵיזֶהוּ גִבּוֹר, הַכּוֹבֵשׁ אֶת יִצְרוֹ... אֵיזֶהוּ עָשִׁיר, הַשָּׂמֵחַ בְּחֶלְקוֹ..אֵיזֶהוּ מְכֻבָּד, הַמְכַבֵּד אֶת הַבְּרִיּוֹת...

Ben Zoma said:Who is wise? He who learns from every man ... Who is mighty? He who subdues his [evil] inclination... Who is rich? He who rejoices in his lot ...Who is he that is honored? He who honors his fellow human beings ...

מודֶה [מודָה] אֲנִי לְפָנֶיךָ מֶלֶךְ חַי וְקַיָּם, שֶׁהֶחֱזַרְתָּ בִּי נִשְׁמָתִי בְּחֶמְלָה, רַבָּה אֱמוּנָתֶךָ:

I offer thanks to You, living and eternal Sovereign, for You returned to me my soul; Great is Your faithfulness.

Marcia Falk The Days in Between

Gratitude: the gift one gives oneself… Many traditional blessings are prayers of gratitude to God. But one can also feel gratitude without directing it to a particular source...

Is Gratitude Queen of the Virtues?”

Robert Emmons, Professor of Psychology at UC Davis

Modern research has shown: …gratitude …contributes positively to friendship and civility … mitigates toxic emotions … curbs antisocial impulses and … inhibits destructive interpersonal behavior… people who practice gratitude are viewed as more helpful, more outgoing, more optimistic, and more trustworthy.

Thanksgiving Proclamation from Abraham Lincoln 1863

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy … I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States … to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

Minyan by Rabbi Rami Shapiro

Spirituality is living with attention.

Living with attention leads me to thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is the response I have

To the great debt I accrue with each breath I take.

Attending to the everyday miracles of ordinary living

I am aware of the interconnectedness of all things.

I cannot be without you.

This cannot be without that.

All cannot be without each.

And each cannot be without every.

Thanksgiving is not for anything,

It is from everything.

May I cultivate the attention

to allow the thanks that is life

to inform the dance that is living.


What are the benefits of gratitude and gratitude practice in your experience?

How can a person cultivate gratitude that does not depend on positive external circumstances?

Have you ever struggled with gratitude? Where is your growing edge with gratitude?