Celebrate Our Thanks to God

Yael Eckstein  |  March 14, 2022

celebrating purim, how to celebrate purim

The meat of their fellowship offering of thanksgiving must be eaten on the day it is offered; they must leave none of it till morning. — Leviticus 7:15

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. This week, our Torah portion is Tzav, which means “command,” from Leviticus 6:1–8:36.

My first three children — Mayora, Liam, and Sapir — came pretty easily to me and my husband. I got pregnant quickly and enjoyed healthy pregnancies.

But my pregnancy with my fourth child, Shimmy, was quite different. Those nine months were the hardest months of my life. I was hospitalized twice with internal bleeding, and the doctors told me that they didn’t know if the baby would make it. They found problem after problem in the ultrasounds, and no one was able to tell us that he would be OK.

When Shimmy was born, and the doctors told us that he was perfectly healthy, we were overwhelmed with gratitude and joy. And I promised God that I would never forget His kindness and that I would always share our story.

Every year, on Shimmy’s birthday, we make a big party of celebrating our thanks to God with others. It’s our way to acknowledge God for His blessings and never to take them for granted.

Celebrate Our Thanks to God

In this week’s Torah portion, we read about the thanksgiving offering. According to the rabbinic commentaries, this offering was an obligation for someone who survived a dangerous situation such as illness, a life-threatening accident, or a difficult pregnancy — like I had with Shimmy.

One of the rules of the thanksgiving offering is that the meat of the offering had to be eaten on the day the offering was brought. The Bible explicitly forbids leaving any meat over to the next day. Now, think about how much meat there is on an entire cow or sheep. The answer is quite a lot! Even a simple roast that feeds my full Shabbat table is only a small part of the animal. Dozens of people would be needed to eat the meat of an entire animal.

Which is exactly the point. As described by sources from Temple times, thanksgiving offerings were occasions for the person bringing the offering to invite friends, family, and complete strangers to partake of the feast and listen to them tell the story of their gratitude to God. This way, every thanksgiving offering was a way to celebrate thanks to God for His many blessings with others.

Your Turn:

Choose a special moment or even in your life for which you are thankful and throw a party to celebrate your thanks to God and tell your story to others.

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