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Thanking God in the Good Times

Thanking God in the Good Times


Celebrate the Festival of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field.

“Celebrate the Festival of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field.” — Exodus 23:16

This month, I’m sharing with you weekly devotions based on my book, Generations to Generations: Passing on the Legacy of Faith to Our Children. These devotions are tied to the biblical observance of Shavuot, or Pentecost, which initially was a harvest festival celebrating the firstfruits of the crops. Today, it focuses on the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, and will be celebrated from sundown May 28 through May 30.

One of the most important values that my husband and I strive to instill in our children is gratitude. Like many families of faith, we recite blessings aloud before eating food so that they learn to be grateful to God for His provisions. However, in Judaism, we also recite the traditional, lengthy “Grace after Meals” as a family, once we have finished eating. This practice teaches us to bless God not only when we are hungry in anticipation of the food we are about to receive, but also when we are satisfied and no longer in need.

In the Jewish faith, the principle of gratitude is intricately woven into the holiday of Shavuot. In Leviticus 23, the Bible instructs us to observe the holiday of Shavuot seven weeks after Passover. Shavuot, appropriately, means “weeks” as it marks the conclusion of counting these specified weeks. On this holiday, also called the “Festival of Harvest,” we are directed to, “Celebrate the Festival of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field” (Exodus 23:16). Bringing God the best of the harvest is a tangible expression of gratitude.

Shavuot and Passover are not only connected by virtue of the seven weeks between them, but the two holidays are also connected spiritually. Passover celebrates God’s help in our most difficult times. Shavuot beckons us to recognize God as the source of our blessing during the fruitful times of our lives. On Passover, we remember that God is with us in our hard times. On Shavuot, we make sure that we do not forget God in our bountiful seasons.

When life is difficult, it is natural to call out to God for help. When life gets comfortable, our tendency is to take things for granted. The antidote to taking God’s blessings for granted or attributing them to our own abilities is gratitude — to recognize God’s gifts and thank Him for them. And the more we thank God and recognize Him as the only source of all blessings, the more we will receive from His unlimited storehouse of great blessings.

Your turn: Download a complimentary sample of my new book, Generation to Generation, at generationbook.org to learn more about passing on our faith to the next generation.

Hebrew Word of the Day

May 15, 2020

Fasting and Prayer

Synagogue — Beit Kenesset


Shavuot — Practicing Gratitude

Yael explores the history and meaning of Shavuot, and what both Jews and Christians can learn from this holiday known as the “Festival of Harvest.”

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