Genesis 28:10 – 32:3
While many of us took time this past week to feel and offer gratitude on Thanksgiving, some of us may have struggled to find gratitude. And, even among those who truly did have a grateful Thanksgiving are those of us for whom the holiday is just for once a year – rather than a daily or weekly celebration. For far too many of us, our world - the “real world,” has too many claims upon us:
Enter this week’s Torah portion, where Jacob finally begins to come into his own. In last week’s parasha Jacob is introduced to us as the physically weaker stay-at-home-with-his-mother twin as compared with his burly man-of-the-fields brother Esau. However, this week Jacob – by himself – moves an incredibly heavy stone to access the life-giving waters of the well it had covered.
What is the connection between this story and gratitude?
Rabbi Bonnie Koppell notes how we are “wired” for gratitude: it creates such warm feelings within and between us. She also acknowledges that we are the most materially comfortable people in the history of people. Yet we are also the most dissatisfied, consumed with desire, struggling with what she calls a spiritual depression. She teaches: “Gratitude is as important to our spiritual well-being as water is to our physical well-being. What is it that blocks us from accessing the soul restoring waters of gratitude and appreciation?”
That is the question. What are the stones, the spiritual blocks, we need to move to access the joy which comes with spiritual health? For each of us, the answer will be different, but know this: just like Jacob, you have the strength to move them – even if you think you don’t.
Hi there! I am the senior rabbi at Temple Beth Ami in Rockville, Maryland, where I have served since 2016.
(c) copyright 2018 by Rabbi Gary Pokras