When I first wore my Apple Watch I was obsessed with “closing my rings.” The watch has daily health goals, standing for a certain number of hours, moving for a certain number of minutes, and burning a certain number of calories. Completing all three goals closes the rings and tiny fireworks go off on the watch face. It’s not possible to “close your rings” in one 30-minute workout. Meeting these fitness goals requires consistent effort over the course of a day.
A rabbi two thousand years ago, Rabbi Meir, began a Jewish system like my Apple Watch. Rather than a focus on exercise, Rabbi Meir’s goal was to recite a certain number of blessings each day. He believed that achieving Jewish fitness happened by reciting 100 blessings each day.* Now, unless you’re going to read off a list at the end of each day to meet your goal—a pretty uninspiring way to bless—saying 100 blessings in a day requires constant work and attention.
While we may not say 100 blessings each day, Jewish tradition prioritizes gratitude as a part of every act. This is perhaps why a holiday like Thanksgiving is so accessible and easy for American Jews to incorporate into their own lives.
As we reflect on our many blessings this Thanksgiving, I hope that we can all find ways to add more gratitude into our daily routine—to devote as much time to our Jewish fitness as we do to our physical fitness.
My blessing for gratitude this year comes right from our own siddur, Mishkan T’filah:**
We acknowledge with thanks that You are Adonai, our God, and the God of our ancestors, forever. You are the Rock of our lives, and the Shield of our salvation in every generation. Let us thank You and praise You—for our lives which are in Your hand, for our souls which are in Your care, for Your miracles that we experience every day and for Your wondrous deeds and favors at every time of day, evening, morning, and noon. O Good One, whose mercies never end, O Compassionate One, whose kindness never fails, we forever put our hope in You. O God, our Redeemer and Helper, let all who live affirm You and praise Your Name in truth. Blessed are You, Adonai, Your Name is Goodness, and You are worthy of Thanksgiving.
From your Temple Emanu-El Clergy to Your Family, we wish you a wonderful, gratitude-filled, Thanksgiving.
*Babylonian Talmud, Menachot 43b
**Mishkan T’filah p.94
AJT-Rabbi Max Miller's Chanukah Message