By Rabbi Irwin Wiener, D.D.
November is a marvelous month because of a magnificent American holiday called Thanksgiving. It is called Thanksgiving because it reminds us of all that we have to be thankful for.
We get up each morning and are amazed at all that is in front of us. For example: How many of us wonder how a bird can fly but we can’t? Sometimes we can’t see the trees for the forest, as the saying goes, which really means that there are so many experiences we take for granted that we don’t really stop to look, or touch, or smell the wonders we witness daily.
We are prone to look for miracles and yet they are right in front of us: The birth of a child, the grandeur of space, the warmth of a smile, the tenderness of a caress – these are all miracles of life, and yet we let them pass us by as though they were commonplace and expected.
So, yes we have so much to be grateful for. We should be appreciative of the fact that we live in a country that enables us to appreciate the miracles of life and encourages the goodness that is found in the human spirit. We need to remember that living in this great country affords us opportunities that are the envy of the world such as the ability to explore our imagination for creative purposes.
Americans are the most generous people on the face of the Earth. Our Judeo-Christian heritage encourages benevolence and compassion. Sometimes we lose sight of our responsibilities but then we are reminded with a holiday called Thanksgiving. It is not only a reminder of the things we are grateful for but also to whom we owe this gratitude.
I would urge everyone to display additional gratefulness to the men and women who defend our liberties and put their lives at risk for the sake of our heritage which was given to us by visionaries who saw the value in life and liberty as has been ordained for all people.
Our history as a nation is replete with stories of valor and fortitude. Blood has been shed, not only here, but also on foreign soil because we know that liberty and freedom know no boundaries. Fences and walls may be built, but all they do is concentrate the effort into a small area waiting to destroy the very fabric of our society.
Our men and women in uniform are the reason we are here today, to vote, to express ourselves, to redress our grievances, and, yes, to make the necessary changes that will ensure the continuation of all that was accomplished through the sacrifice of fortune and life.
As we gather together to feast on turkey and retell the stories of holidays past together with the dreams of tomorrow, let us clasp our hands in prayer in the hopes that Almighty God will continue to bless our efforts and answer the prayers of all who cry out for salvation and redemption.
Yes, Thanksgiving is a wonderful time indeed. Perhaps we should not waste it on unimportant things but rather concentrate on the positive aspects of all that God offers: The wonderfulness of life, the magic of each day, and the ability to reach another season together and, above all, the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform as we also celebrate Veterans Day in their honor.
Rabbi Irwin Wiener D. D. is an educator, writer, author of the book Living With Faith and the spiritual leader of the Sun Lakes Jewish Congregation in Chandler.