We start our morning prayers every single day of the year with the same word. That word is “Hodoo”. “Hodoo” is Hebrew for “Give thanks”. “Hodoo” is also Hebrew for “Turkey”, and “Hodoo” is also Hebrew for “India”.

Christopher Columbus meant to travel to India (“Hodoo”), and because his GPS was out of order we consume Turkey (“Hodoo”), in order to engage in the mitzvah of thanksgiving (“Hodoo”!).

According to the Shulchan Aruch, the leading book of Jewish law/Halacha, we are spiritually called upon to give thanks one hundred times a day. We give thanks when we wake up for opening our eyes to another day of existence, we give thanks for being able to sit, to breathe, to eat and to drink, to exist.

Thanksgiving is imperative for our very emotional and mental well-being. It is a matter of basic health. Through the consistent practice of gratitude we find that ever-elusive balance between striving for more, and celebrating and internalizing the abundance and plentitude which we already possess.

In Jewish spirituality thanksgiving is not a day, it is a way of life. As Steve Maraboli wisely observes:
“Those who have the ability to be grateful are the ones who have the ability to achieve greatness”.

To be sure, ultimate greatness is not about fame or glory. Nor is it about monetary wealth or social standing. It is about living in joy and inner contentment. It is about living a life of devotion, generosity, empathy and gratitude. The art of thanksgiving is the key to living in greatness, to living in Godliness, and with energy and vitality.

Wishing us all Shabbat Shalom and a lifetime of thanksgiving,
Rabbi Sessler

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