As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, one of my wishes is that each of you enjoys a wonderful Holiday weekend with people you love. As a child my favorite Holiday was Thanksgiving and I still remember details about the family coming together and how priceless those memories are.
I hope that as we give thanks, we dedicate ourselves to sharing some of our blessings with those who are less fortunate. There are many opportunities to give toys for tots, donate food to food banks, help feed the homeless, and other meaningful ways in which we can make a difference. Please demonstrate how grateful we are by making a difference in the life of someone who is needy. Most of us have so much to give and what a beautiful way to show our gratitude when we help others.
On a separate note, we read in this week’s Torah portion of Jacob’s wrestling match with either himself, an angel, or perhaps even G-d. Jacob’s name changes and he becomes Israel which means to strive with G-d. How many of us are engaged in wrestling matches as we grapple with how we want to spend our college life, what we will major in, what careers we will pursue, who will be our friends, how go make it through finals, how to deal with difficult professors, how to interact with roommates…and the list goes on…?
I find the story of Jacob to be inspirational whenever I go through a challenging period in my life. I believe that although my name has never changed, my attitudes, dreams, goals, aspirations, and so much more are constantly evolving as I become a different and hopefully better person. May each of us will have faith that when we encounter bumps in the road, we will emerge stronger. When I used to vent to our daughter during trying times in my life she would tell me to look at the challenges as “adventures.”
I believe that these “adventures” are opportunities to grow and become the special and unique people that each of us becomes.
Shabbat Shalom, Happy Thanksgiving, and travel safely during this Holiday period. And…what I miss most is the opportunity to give my mom and dad a hug…so if you are fortunate enough to be seeing your parents and/or other loved ones…please give them a hug. Someday the memory will be priceless and will make you smile.
Rabbi Bruce Aft