Gratitude. It’s one of those things that demands repeat focus. No matter how many times I remind myself to be grateful for the blessings in my life, I find that I need the reminder.
For Jews, this time of the year seems designed to foster gratitude. It begins with the Passover holiday, a time to focus on the blessing of nationhood and our redemption from Egypt. Families gather, a reminder of we have to be grateful for on a personal level.
After the holiday, the calendar of events continues. In quick succession, we encounter Yom HaShoah, Yom HaZikaron, and Yom Ha’atzmaut. On these days, which some call the “Aseret Yemei Todah” (10 Days of Gratitude) there’s nothing to feel but thankful. After millennia of suffering and hardship, our nation lives in its own land as a free people.
We are no longer compelled to be persecuted strangers in a strange land, watching the ebb and flow of public opinion with bated breath. Our lives are not fragile. With the declaration of the state in Israel in 1948 and the subsequent War of Independence, all of that changed. Partly due to our predecessors’ incredible bravery, selflessness, and determination, we have a land to call home.
That’s a lot to be thankful for.
We continue to mosey along through this season with the Omer, a daily, seven-week countdown towards the holiday of Shavuot. Otherwise known as Chag HaBikurim, this day is all about gratitude. In ancient times, Jews would start to bring the first produce of their land to the Holy Temple on Shavuot, to thank God for Israel’s abundance.
Nowadays, we celebrate in different ways. But out in nature, we can take the opportunity to notice Israel’s fruits growing – olives, figs, wheat, barley, or grapes – and appreciate them. The Land is fruitful and flourishing again. After thousands of years of desolation, that’s not something we can take for granted.
No matter the trials and tribulations of daily life, no matter the small difficulties, gratitude is in order. When you remind yourself of all you have to be grateful for, the flavor of your life will begin to change. You’ll start to notice the plethora of gifts that you never really paid attention to. Happiness and positivity will wash through your everyday life.
This unique time of year is our opportunity to shift our perspective to the miraculous world of blessing we are living in.