Be thankful throughout your day

Dear Families,

Each morning when we wake up it is a chance to be thankful — to begin again refreshed. We may be in trying times but we can choose gratitude for all that we have. Let’s focus on what is right in the world and that we have the opportunity to create anew each day. Research studies are showing that gratitude is the answer to so many things — especially when you feel sad and out of control. In fact, there is much that is right with our world if we just open our eyes to the wonders around us. Our sages say: Each person must say 100 blessings every day. How wonderful to be reminded of how truly fortunate we are! Imagine stopping and being thankful from the morning when we wake up and throughout the day!

To begin, we have a blessing that we say each morning and even our youngest children can say the words, “Modeh Ani — I am thankful.” Here is the blessing:

Modeh ani l’fanecha melech chai v’kayom shehechezarta bi nishmati b’chemla raba emunotecha — I gratefully thank You, O God our King, for You have returned my soul within me with compassion — abundant is Your faithfulness!

Blessings over all the food that we eat abound — we say a different blessing for each of the many foods, which makes us stop and think and be thankful! Find out all of the unique blessings and stop before you eat to say one (there is an app with the blessings).

Now having a blessing for everything we eat does bring many of us close to the 100 blessings required. Add this one — a blessing to be recited after using the bathroom! As you read this, think about how thankful we should be that everything works the way it is supposed to work because we know what happens if those openings open at the wrong time or if they stay closed!

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has formed man in wisdom, and created within him many openings and many cavities. It is obvious and known before Your throne of glory that if one of them were to be ruptured or one of them blocked, it would be impossible to survive and to stand before You. Blessed are You, God, Who heals all flesh and does wonders.

Now here is a teaching from our sages plus a few questions to talk with your family about! Let us all be thankful every day — it will bring you joy!

From Leviticus Rabbah: Once when the sage Hillel had finished a lesson with his students, he accompanied them partway home. “Master,” they asked, “where are you going?” “To perform a religious duty,” he answered.” “What duty is that?” “To bathe in the bathhouse.” “Is that a religious duty?” they asked. He replied, “If somebody is appointed to clean the statues of the king that stand in the theaters and is paid for the work, and even associates with the nobility, how much more should I, who am created in the image and likeness of God, take care of my body!”

Questions to talk about

· Why say a blessing when we wake up in the morning? What are we thanking God for in Modeh Ani? How does this start your day?

· People always are surprised when they find out about the blessing to say after you have gone to the bathroom. Why is it surprising? What is the bathroom blessing thanking God for?

Laura Seymour is director of camping services at the Aaron Family JCC.

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