You might notice that Yaakov did not say “thank you.” It makes me wonder how to show thanks. I do believe that Yaakov was grateful, and he shows it by exclaiming how amazing things are, and then erecting a stone pillar (matzeiba) and pouring oil on it. In the “place” that he experienced the divine. The Hebrew word makom (place) comes from the root kuf-vav-mem which means arise or stand up. Thus the word for “place” in Hebrew literally means “a location of rising up.” The term matzeiba is also used as a grave marker – a Jewish tombstone – and these markers in Jewish tradition are there to note gratitude and acknowledgement for the life someone has lived.
This week brings perhaps heightened awareness of the land we are on, whether because we have more time to roam in the mountains, the trails, and the paths, thus being in nature more, or because Thanksgiving and Native American Heritage Day confront our relationship to this land and our relationship to indigenous people. As part of that, I invite you to join Kadima and me personally in paying Real Rent or using this as a season to adjust your monthly payment to honor the local tribe, still fighting for federal recognition. Let us, like Yaakov, acknowledge that there is divinity in the land.
Perhaps, like my family, you got together with friends, family, and neighbors last night. I hope it went well. It may have included hard conversations, discomfort, and also connection and gratitude. We continue to need to increase our resiliency in relationship with those who see the world differently than us each. It might itself be a call to action – something for which to train and find grounding and support and practice ongoingly. May we respond by building our capacity to engage. May this week be practice and may we find moments to notice where we are in this work and what we still need to do. We are going to need these skills if we are to be a part of the change our localities need leading into and through 2024.
And yes, let us give thanks. But not just with our words. May we honor the divine by making them “places” - locations where we rise up, take stands, and honor ancestors. May we, like Yaakov, show our gratitude in our actions of remembrance and of teshuvah - the holy act of ensuring that history does not repeat itself.
Wishing us all a shabbat shalom,