“I am unworthy of all the kindness that You have so steadfastly shown Your servant…Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau “. Exodus 23:11-12
In each and every one of our lives we have much for which to be thankful. Things might be difficult for us at the moment, economically or socially, physically or spiritually, but if we step back even from our darkest moments we realize that we are blessed with a good life that many through history would envy. We are gifted with a life that many in our own world, our own town, long for daily.
In this week’s Torah portion we find Jacob on the eve of reuniting with his estranged brother Esau. After having tricked their father into giving him Esau’s blessing, Jacob has finally come to realize the impact of that treachery.
We read that Jacob was so afraid of the impending encounter that he sent his family away to hide across a river. When he crossed over to the other side, away from his family, he settled in for the night and began with a prayer to God. It is an ode to God of thanksgiving for all the good things that have been bestowed upon him during his life, and a plea to God to save him from any wrath his brother may have for him. Just when he thinks all might be lost; just when he must send away his family and all he has accumulated; just as he lay there more alone then he has ever been before in his life, rather than wallow in self -pity he cries out to God to thank God for the kindness God has shown him.
Jacob presents an important message to us to be mindful that we can always find things in our life for which to be thankful. This Thanksgiving, take a moment to think about all the good things that are happening in your life. Look around and acknowledge those you have come to appreciate in your life.
An appropriate blessing to share with your family at the Thanksgiving table is the Shehechyanu blessing, thanking God for granting us life, sustaining us, and helping us reach this day.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָֽנוּ וְקִיְּמָֽנוּ וְהִגִּיעָֽנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה.
Finally, I want to leave you with a beautiful rendition of Jacob’s words of thanks to God. It is a song by Yonaton Razel, which you can find here.
Rabbi Bradley Tecktiel has been Midbar Kodesh Temple's spiritual leader since August 2008. Rabbi Tecktiel was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in May of 1996. He holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees, one from List College and one from Columbia University. He also holds a Masters of Arts from the Jewish Theological Seminary.
You can follow him on Twitter @RabbiMKT.