Thanksgiving and Gratitude Reflections with Doni Kandel
At the City of David, as I lead my students down a dark underground passageway through the streets of ancient Jerusalem, we often stop to marvel at the fact that the lessons of our forefathers are as relevant today as ever. One of the most important messages that can be taken away from this visit, one that is undoubtedly on all of our minds as November rolls around, is the importance of giving thanks.
The climax of the visit to the City of David is undoubtedly the walk through King Hezekiah’s water tunnel. A few years after the conquering the Kingdom of Israel in the north in 722 BCE, the Assyrians, turned their eyes to Jerusalem to the south. They lied siege to the holy city and prepared for another resounding victory. Hezekiah, King of Judah, knew that Jerusalem would be vulnerable to infiltration through the city’s water tunnel system, which is exactly how King David had conquered it from the Jebusites hundreds of years prior. Thus, with no time to spare, he ordered the construction of a tunnel, that would bring the water system completely within the walls of the city, simultaneously securing Jerusalem’s water supply in addition to blocking access to infiltration.
While there is debate as to how the Assyrians failed to conquer Jerusalem, everyone agrees that they did in fact fail, and that Hezekiah’s water tunnel played a major part in saving the Jewish people.
When Jews want to show gratitude to G-d, they sing. When they successfully crossed the Red Sea after leaving Egypt, Moses and Miriam led them in song. When Deborah and Barak helped save the Jewish people from the Canaanites, the prophetess composed a beautiful song to G-d. When King David had defeated all of his surrounding enemies, he sang a song to Almighty.
Therefore, as I ready my students to walk through the tunnel that helped save the Jewish people, I tell them that they have a Jewish obligation to sing and dance their way through, in an epic (and really fun) burst of thanksgiving.
May we all have much to be thankful for, this Thanksgiving and every other day of the year.