David-Seth Kirshner

Streams of Anxious Consciousness 47

Ecclesiastes teaches there is a season set for every experience. A time for every feeling. There is a time for war, and a time for peace. A time for dancing and a time for being still. A time for wishing and a time to be grateful.

The inference is that we can only experience one feeling at a time. How can we dance and be still simultaneously? It is impossible to wage war and experience peace concurrently.

At this sacred holiday of Thanksgiving in the middle of this trying time in history, I find myself wishing as much as I am feeling grateful. It feels sacrilege to wish on Thanksgiving. It is a day fashioned for gratitude. How could I want on this day?

It has always sickened my soul that we conclude Thanksgiving with a mad dash to consumerism and actualizing on our coveted desires during black Friday. We gather with appreciation and gratefulness and hours later, we wake early and trample strangers to get one of the televisions or toasters on sale. It doesn’t conform with the spirit of the holiday.

That is why it feels foreign to gather around the table, with a bounty of food and surrounded by family and still be unsatisfied. Still, I am. I am salivating over Turkey and wanting more.

I am wishing for the quick resolution of the war in Israel.
I am wishing for the eradication of Hamas.
I am wanting every hostage to be reunited with their family.
I desire every Israeli to know how loved they are by Jews in the Diaspora.
I want antisemitism to be rebutted with pro-semitism.
I am wishing that our unity remains long past this conflict.

My list goes on of all I am hoping and wishing for.

At the same time, I have much to be grateful for today and every day.

I am buoyed by the imminent release of young Jewish children who are hostages and their future embrace with their family.
I am heartened by the level of unity I witnessed in Israel amongst all streams of the country.
I am appreciative of the United States government, Congress and the administration for their unwavering support of Israel during this time of need.
I am bowled-over by the level of engagement and support by our Temple Emanu-El Community for Israel and Israelis.
My hope has been restored seeing 300,000 strong for our solidarity march in Washington last week.
I am grateful for the IDF and the soldiers defending Israel and Jews worldwide.
The number of organizations and groups that have volunteered, donated and rushed to aid Israel has been incalculable and awe-inspiring and fills me with thankfulness.

My list  of things I am grateful and appreciative for, runneth over.

When Moses received the Torah from God on Mount Sinai, they appeared in two tablets. Why two? Could not have God produced them on one tablet? Why separate them?

Perhaps God and Moses were teaching us that we can hold two truths at one time. During this unsteady time, we can wish while being grateful. We can dream and be thankful. We can laugh and cry. Like the tablets, we can hold both at once.

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As we gather with family and friends, fully aware that the world and tumult around us can take no pause, let us exhale and take note of the many things we can catalogue that give our lives blessing and help us realize even amidst chaos, the multitude of blessings that rain from heavens. Thank God for those blessings. Make time to pray for more miracles and continue to fuel the fire of hope. It is what allows us to carry forward with our heads high and the energy to make the positive change our world so desperately needs.

About the Author
David-Seth Kirshner is the senior rabbi of Temple Emanu-El, a Conservative synagogue in Closter, New Jersey. He is the past President of the NY Board of Rabbis and the NJ Board of Rabbis and is a Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Hartman Institute and serves on the Executive Committee of the JFNA. Rabbi Kirshner was appointed to the New Jersey/Israel Commission by Governors Christie and Murphy. Rabbi Kirshner is a National Council member of AIPAC.
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