Rabbi Irwin Wiener, D.D.
Thanksgiving enables us to comprehend the true meaning of life: to be thankful for all the harvests of our days. God is where God should be – in our hearts and minds, in our deeds and actions, in our relationships and understanding of each other.
Thanksgiving should help us realize that we are responsible for each other and that there can be no true jubilation without this moral standard. We are responsible to others for our actions and for the consequences that will result. We are responsible to God for those things that relate to our spiritual well-being. We are responsible to ourselves to ensure that our lives will have meaning and purpose.
Our lives are tenuous, our existence indeed fragile, and the gift of life so temporary that we must take the time to celebrate, rejoice and give thanks.
We have so much to be grateful for. We get up each morning and marvel at all that is before us. How can we watch a bird and not wonder how it can fly? How can we run our fingers through a blade of grass and not think about growth and the future? How can we witness the first step of a child and not be enthused by the knowledge that this is the beginning of a journey to places beyond our understanding? How is it possible to lose a loved one and not be comforted in the wonder of eternalness?
Yes, we have much to be thankful for. This is the time, for example, to be thankful for a country that espouses all that is good in the human spirit. This is the time set aside to remember who we are – Americans, devoted to the exploration of the imagination. We are Americans who treasure benevolence and practice it every waking moment. We are Americans who know that we have failings because we are human but also realize that we can overcome these fallibilities with compassion. We are Americans thankful for the men and women of our armed forces who sacrifice daily for our freedom.
Families will gather together to feast on turkey and enjoy stories of yesterday and dreams of tomorrow. It is a time set aside for reflection and a need to eliminate the insignificant things that make us feel trapped. We should concentrate on being happy and thankful. Sometimes we forget how fortunate we are.
This is what Thanksgiving is all about: the wonderfulness of life, the magic of the day and night, the knowledge that the sun will rise and set on another day, the hopes and dreams of a brighter tomorrow.
And, don’t forget to thank God for enabling us to reach this season, grateful for the United States of America, thankful to our veterans who sacrificed, and still sacrifice so much. Most of all let us be thankful for each other.