Giving Thanks For All Who Toil
Labor Day is a great celebration of hard-working Americans and the power of human industry - a virtue we call in Hebrew, malakha. Humanity has been working since the beginning. God placed Adam, the first person, in the Garden of Eden to till it and tend to it. (Gen. 2:15) So important is our work that “no blessing rests on persons except by the work of their hands.” (Tosefta Brakhot 7,8)
It’s also true that Labor Day is a great respite from work - a long weekend; a federal holiday; a well-deserved day off. Such rest and malakha have a long-enduring relationship, “six days shall you labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the eternal your God – you shall not do any work.” (Exodus 20:9) The big difference between Labor Day of Shabbat is, of course, frequency. Labor Day is annual. Shabbat is weekly. But either way, both give us precious time to reflect on the blessings of our efforts through the practice of repose.
So today, we give thanks for all who toil to make our lives better, especially during this pandemic: medical researchers, doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, mental health practitioners, first responders, teachers & other youth professionals; military professionals; transportation and sanitation professionals; restaurant, supermarket and home delivery professionals; and any other worker who puts his/her/their lives in Covid-19’s way in some shape or fashion. You are a collective force for good. And we thank you for all you do in these trying times and beyond. May you enjoy a little rest and renewal.
Make it day of blessing. Be a force for good. And stay in the fight.
Rabbi Craig Marantz