This is the Jewish month of Cheshvan — a month with no Jewish holidays (except, of course, Shabbat). We have also entered the month of November — and we all are looking forward to the holiday of Thanksgiving. Add to this, we have made it through tornadoes! It is certainly the month to focus on the Jewish value of “hoda’ah — gratitude.” This month let’s focus on different blessings as we remember how many blessings fill our lives.
We begin each day with “Modeh Ani”:
“Modeh ani lifanecha, Melech chai v’ka-yam, Shehe-che-zar-ta bi nish-mati, b’chem-la, rabbah e-mu-na-te-cha. I give thanks unto you, O everlasting One, for You have returned my soul to me in mercy. Great is your faithfulness.”
“Modeh ani” are the first words we are to say every morning — even while still in bed. We start the day thanking God for the gift of life. The belief is that each night our soul goes to heaven to recharge. In the morning, our soul is returned to us to begin again. How wonderful to see each day as a new beginning!
The blessing begins with the phrase “I give thanks.” In Hebrew, the word for thank you is “todah,” which has the meaning “to admit.” Saying thank you is admitting that you couldn’t do it alone, that you needed help and that you are thankful/grateful for the help given. Admitting you need help is difficult for some but it is also a gift that we give to others — people want to help and denying others that chance doesn’t help us or others.
Now, let’s take thank you to the next step — thanking God. We know we can’t go it alone in the world. We need family, friends, neighbors — even strangers. Does God need our thanks? Do we need God?
I will end with these two questions — each of us can ponder the answers. I must also end with thank-yous. Every person who tells me that they have read my column — thank you! It means a lot! And this past week, for everyone who reached out with care after reading “my tornado story” — thank you! And, finally for all who have helped others struggling with their tornado loss and fear — thank you! We will rebuild together as long as we wake up each day thankful.