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Thankful for... Sleep

Thursday, 28 November, 2019 - 10:08 pm

However it evolved and whatever the accurate story is… this day has been established as the American holiday to give thanks. We are bombarded with statements by everyone under the sun telling us that they are thankful for this and that. Companies for their customers. Employers for their employees. People for their friends and family. Societies for their freedoms and good fortune. All that is nice and good. But we need to establish to whom this thanks is meant to be offered.

Clearly the origins of the thanksgiving concept, as well as the formalized application the holiday, all point to a thanksgiving directed to the Creator, in gratitude for His blessings and salvation. Abraham Lincoln, when declaring Thanksgiving as an official American holiday fixed in the calendar, explicitly stated as much.

While having a day designated to express thanks to the Creator is a wonderful thing, as Jews we know that every day needs to be thanksgiving. The day of a Jewish person begins with an expression of thanks and ends with an expression of thanks. The first words that are supposed to be uttered immediately upon awakening are “Modeh Ani” – the words of gratitude to Hashem for restoring our soul and life to us once again. The final prayer we say praises Hashem for guarding over us as we sleep and the act of entrusting our soul to Hashem for refreshing.

One of the things that I reflect on in the realm of thanksgiving to Hashem, is the special value of sleep. After a day of work, stress, excitement, disappointment, worry, anticipation, joy, anxiousness and a host of other feelings and experiences, once can lay down to sleep and wake up refreshed the next morning with a new perspective and a sense of being able to deal with life anew. Often the new day following a night’s sleep brings with it a renewed sense of optimism and energy. The issues haven’t changed, but my perspective has – all thanks to the gift of sleep.

One of the commentaries to the prayer Modeh Ani is the contrast between Hashem and the natural world. If I entrust a beat up object to a friend for safekeeping, it will be returned to me in the same state. When we entrust a tired and battered soul to Hashem at the end of the day, He returns it to us renewed and refreshed.

Thank you Hashem for all that You have given us in every area of life!

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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