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Rabbi's Message, Parshat Vayeshev

11/26/2021 09:16:43 AM


Rabbi Benjamin Samuels

Many traditional Jewish Americans - whether descendents of early Sephardic Jewish arrivals, or 19th century immigrants from Western Europe, or the influx of Eastern European Jews in the first half of the 20th century, or the many nationalities of later Jewish immigrants - have fully embraced the American Holiday of Thanksgiving. Rabbi Solovietchik zt”l was known to end his Talmud shiur at Yeshiva University early (Torah never takes a vacation!) in order to return home to Boston in time for Thanksgiving Dinner. Even Rabbi Moshe Feinstein zt”l wrote in a responsum in 1980/5741 that there is no prohibition of emulating gentile religious practice in celebrating Thanksgiving. Both appreciated the need and desire to proudly participate in American customs when possible, and while not a religious holiday, a mindset of thankfulness and expressions of thanksgiving certainly align with fundamental Jewish values. Thanksgiving even feels like a yom tov meal without any accompanying restrictions! Famously, we are called Jews - yehudim - because the root of being a Jew is “hodayah - giving thanks” (see Bereishit 29:35). This Thanksgiving, I have been thinking about the difference between the above-mentioned qualities of “Thankfulness” and “Thanksgiving.” Consider discussing at your Shabbat table how they are different and why both are necessary. To view my Thanksgiving Shiur on this topic, click here.

Shabbat Shalom, Happy Thanksgiving weekend, and Chanukah Sameach-to-come, Rav Benjie

Sat, April 1 2023 10 Nisan 5783