Thanksgiving has always been my favorite “American” holiday. It has been since I was a child. The house is filled with incredible smells and family. No, not smelly family! The TV starts the morning off with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and finishes off with a football game or two.
I remember how I used to put pitted black olives on my fingers… I don’t know, I just did. Go with it. And how my Mother used to yell at me not to eat or snack until the guests arrived. “Those are for the guests,” she shouted in typical motherly and host fashion.As an adult, it became more about the actual thanks and the importance of family and gathering together. I was and am still dismayed at how Thanksgiving is now rushed over. Stores and retail go immediately from Halloween to Christmas, and it seems the only purpose of Thanksgiving these days is to go to Black Friday and use it as an excuse to shop.
And that leads me to Friday. As I have become more aware of my own Judaism, I see Shabbat as a weekly Thanksgiving. A chance to gather together with friends and family. To give thanks, to show humility and to embrace all that we have been given. Life is too short. Moments fly by. It reminds me that I need to be more aware of it, more aware of the fact that G-d gives us each and every day to see miracles, to be grateful and thankful, to appreciate and to connect.“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein
Now, of course, this is an easy thing to say and even believe in… but to put it into action, to truly live it each and every day is not easy. Life can smack us around, move us off the path, beat us up a bit. So how do we stay happy? How do we battle our own brains and thoughts?
The Tanya tells us about this battle, the fight between the Divine Soul and the Animal Soul. So here I am stuck in the middle with you… Literally. Almost all of us are Benoni, intermediates, in between these two notions. So how do we manage? Living every day with humility and gratitude is one outstanding guide. And so is self realization. This is key and a gift that Hashem has given all of us.
According to the text book from the JLI class “From Worrier To Warrior”: “Man has it in his power to achieve personal harmony and unity by realizing his inner nature… To be a true master of the world which the Creator had entrusted in his hands, man must first be master of himself.”And so on this Thanksgiving Day holiday… and of course, on each and every day, let us remember that certain thoughts and feelings that creep up inside us are very normal. The Animal Soul is not evil, it is simply the ego, the survivalist, the less elevated, but Natural Soul. Connecting to Hashem pushes us towards to Divine. But it has to start with one person… ourselves. Our connection to Hashem is all that matters.
Love yourself for all that you are. Recognize that there will always be a battle within you. Take the time to see the miracles that are around you each and every day, and most importantly, be grateful, feel and EXPRESS gratitude each and every day.
Know that you are amazing and wonderful and miraculous, but at the same time, be humble. We have flaws and we have wonder. We have good and we have bad. And WE have the ability to choose, and connect, and be… Let us be. Let us be Divine. Let us be Holy. Let us be.
And so to Hashem, to my family and friends, and to myself, I give thanks. I choose to see the miracles in my life. I choose to be happy. I choose to be me, for I am, as I was created by G-d. Thank you.