Ritual Wisdom

Ritual Wisdom 11-26-21

Yesterday (November 25. 2021) was Thanksgivings in the USA. Although, Thanksgivings is not a Jewish holiday, the spirit behind giving thanks is a Jewish concept.

The holiday of Chanukah, which begins this Sunday night, when we celebrate the miracle of the oil in the Holy Temple, is also a holiday of thanksgivings. In the special Chanukah prayer, called Al Hanisim, which we recite in the Amida prayer three times daily during the eight days of Chanukah, we say that the eight days of Chanukah, “were instituted to give thanks and praise to Your great name.”

The hero of the Chanukah miracle was Yehuda HaMacabee. The name Yehuda means to give thanks. Leah called her fourth son, Yehuda, because, as the Torah tells us, she gave thanks to G-d for giving her a fourth son.

Each day we recite a special Psalm which is called, Psalm of the Thanks-offering. Also, one of the eighteen blessings in the daily Amida prayer is called Modim. It is a blessing of thanks, in which we thank G-d for ALL the wonderful things He does for us daily.

Here is the translation of the Thanks-offering Psalm: “A Psalm for the thank-offering. Let all the earth sing in jubilation to Hashem. Serve Hashem with joy; come before Him with exultation. Know that Hashem is G-d, He has made us, and we are His; His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with gratitude, His courtyards with praise; give thanks to Him, bless His name. For Hashem is good. His kindness is everlasting, and His faithfulness is for all generations.”

This week’s Torah reading, Vayeishev, is about the story of Joseph being sold by his brothers and he ends up in Egypt. One can only imagine what went through Joseph’s mind, who came to visit his brothers upon his father’s request and ends up as a slave to an Egyptian in Egypt.

The Torah describes the hardships and trials which Joseph endured. But in the end, as the Torah tells us, it was all for the good. It was for Joseph’s benefit, for his family’s benefit and for the welfare and benefit of all the Egyptians.

When Joseph, his father and brothers were reunited twenty-two years later, Joseph tells his brothers that it was not they who sold him to the Egyptians, it was G-d Who caused it to happen so as to save the people during the famine years.

It is the same with each and everyone of us. We do not always see the ultimate benefit which comes from adversity. But we do believe that everything comes from G-d and as a result, there is a reason for it all and it is all for the ultimate good.