The Benediction of Thanksgiving, Sermon Excerpt

I thought the following sermon would be of interest to Messianic Jewish Musings readers. I derive a lot of the points from an article by Reuven Kimelman called “The Rabbinic Theology of the Physical,” in the Cambridge History of Judaism, Vol. IV.

The excerpt below is from the middle of the sermon. If you choose to read the whole sermon, you will read more about Thanksgiving as spirituality and also about the way Jewish blessings orient the one praying in three spheres of existence. If you’d rather, just enjoy the excerpt below. For the whole thing, click HERE.

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The rabbis have a wonderful teaching about thanksgiving. They have a way of explaining thanksgiving that helps me understand why this is no minor commandment.

One of the first steps in understanding thanksgiving is Genesis 1:31:

God saw everything that he had made, and indeed it was very good. So there was evening, and there was morning, a sixth day.

Why is this so important? Some people, under the influence of Greek philosophy or similar ideas, think the spiritual is good and the physical is bad. The Bible does not call pleasure bad. The Bible enjoins you to enjoy food and drink and sex.

It is not that there are two realms, the spiritual and the physical, which are separate. They are together.

The next thing to understand is that the whole world is God’s temple, Exodus 40:34:

Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of ADONAI filled the tabernacle.

And yet, Psalm 72:19:

May His glorious name be praised forever;
the whole earth is filled with His glory.

What is the place that is filled with his glory? It is the temple and yet it is the whole earth. Thus, the whole earth is God’s temple.

The final piece of the puzzle is from God’s regulations for the temple, Leviticus 5:15:

If anyone acts improperly and inadvertently sins in regard to the holy things of ADONAI, he is to bring as his guilt offering…

We are forbidden to mistreat the holy things of God. But the whole world is God’s temple. Thus, everything we enjoy is, in a sense, a holy thing of God.

What can we do not to violate them? What can we do to enjoy them appropriately?

The rabbis say that blessings of thanksgiving are our appropriate response. When we thank God, we offer him a sacrifice. We REDEEM God’s holy things so they can be enjoyed without profaning them. We ACKNOWLEDGE God’s ownership. We EXPAND the precincts of God’s temple.

Thanking God often throughout the day for the many blessings we enjoy is temple worship.
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Click HERE for the whole message.

About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
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