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Thanks for Everything

11/22/2016 01:47:23 AM

Nov22

Hayee Sarah explores the crossroads between loss and thanksgiving. It  begins with sadness as Sarah dies and Abraham negotiates for a burial place.  The next section of the parashah is introduced with the phrase “Abraham was old, full in years, and God blessed him with all (bakol).”
 The latter part of this phrase rings false at first reading. After all,  Abraham may be blessed, and rich in possessions and hearty in old age, but can he really be considered to be blessed in all things?  He has gone through ten trials,  has lost his wife, and his relationships with his two living sons seem tenuous. Should he be grateful? The answer may offer some inspiration this Thanksgiving weekend.
      Our sages  offer many creative interpretations of the phrase “with all” For example, Rabbi Yehudah (Bava Batra 16b) suggests that it means that  Abraham’s family was complete- he had a daughter as well.  I would suggest that we are to draw different conclusions from the fact that Abraham is considered to be blessed “with all.”
    Maybe we are to understand that Abraham saw himself as blessed “overall.” Despite all of the troubles and tribulations that he had faced, he recognized that his life was, on the balance, still quite blessed. Alternatively, perhaps Abraham  was blessed “with all” in the sense that all of those around him were blessed through his presence in their society.  Even if there were ways in which he felt lack, pain and hurt, he recognized that he could still bring blessing and positivity to others.
   Both of these approaches are worth considering on this Thanksgiving weekend.    Each of us surely faces troubles and anxieties.  Some of us are able see ourselves like Abraham and conclude that our blessings outweigh our troubles.  If so, then we can surely find gratitude and and give thanks for being blessed “overall.”
    Perhaps some of us see our troubles overshadowing our blessings at a one particular moment in time.  Even if this is so, we must recognize that we each have the chance to be a blessing to those around us.  We can ask God to bless us bakol, through our place among others.  We see our goodness, and God’s goodness, reflected in the experiences of thoe we help.  This Thanksgiving, and throughout life, let us appreciate God’s goodness to us, by ensuring that others share in it.

Fri, July 19 2019 16 Tammuz 5779