Shalom Chaverim,

Thanksgiving is the quintessential American AND Jewish holiday. As Jews, we do it everyday of our lives. It is hard-wired into our DNA. It is our very name! The word Jew comes from the Hebrew word yehudi, derived from the root l’hodot, to thank. 

The Jewish People get another one of its names in this week’s epic Torah portion as Jacob wrestles with God and is renamed Yisrael, Israel, meaning “one who wrestles with God and prevails.”

Throughout all the trials and tales of his life, Jacob never forgets his sense of gratitude. In one of the most poignant lines from this week and from our entire tradition are his words to God, “Katonti me’kol ha’chasadim / I am unworthy of all the kindness that you have steadfastly shown your Servant.” Amazingly, he says this as he’s fleeing for his life about to face the formidable foe of his brother, Esau. 

As we face our foes, whether internal or external…as we wrestle with God and ourselves, let us keep our eyes on gratitude, grateful for what we have and always ready to share with those in need. 

During this sacred reminder to give thanks, I thank all of you for your abundant acts of kindness to me and each other. I am unworthy. I am forever grateful. 

In Blessing,

Rabbi Natan