“How strange we are in the world, and how presumptuous our doings! Only one response can maintain us: gratefulness for witnessing the wonder, for the gift of our unearned right to serve, to adore, and to fulfill. It is gratefulness which makes the soul great.”
-Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
As we enter the holiday season, no sensitive human being can help but be aware of both the good and bad in our lives, in our country and around the world.
Rabbi Heschel reminds us, however, that it is “gratefulness which makes the soul great.” Our expression of gratitude for the gifts we enjoy, for family, friends, colleagues, community, and the people of Israel bond us together and offer a means to joy, fulfillment, and equanimity.
The author and mid-twentieth century Zionist activist, Ben Hecht, put it well with these words:
“Kindness, tolerance, integrity, modesty, generosity - these are attributes that events permit us. They are our holiday moods, and we are as proud of them as of the fine clothes we have hung away to wear on occasions.”
Each year, the holiday season returns us to family and friends to celebrate each other and our lives, and to remember. We rekindle gratitude for the good and we recall those we’ve loved and who loved us. It’s the season for us to restore the blessings of hope in their memory.
I wish for you and your dear ones a year-end holiday season of joy, generosity of heart, gratitude, hope, and peace.
I would wish, as well, that we take this holiday season as an opportunity to express our gratitude to our families, friends, and colleagues for being in our lives, to right the wrongs of its injustice, to soften hearts with compassion, and to restore the world through tikkun olam.
With peace and blessing,
John L Rosove
Senior Rabbi – Temple Israel of Hollywood
Los Angeles, CA