I was speaking with my children about Chanukah and the importance of recognizing and publicizing the miracles in our lives, when an interesting point was raised. My kids asked if there was a connection to the Jewish people celebrating Chanukah at the very time of year that Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. I had never really thought in depth about Thanksgiving before, but upon reflection I realized that the name is fascinating. Thanks and Giving. Now, clearly it is known to be a day for being grateful for what we have and for giving thanks, however, that is not what the name of the day actually says. It is not Thanksgiven for what we have been given. Or ThanksReceived, for what we received. But rather, two very different ideas that coincide and join together as one. There is the idea of "thanks" and there is the idea of "giving."

And since the Torah teaches that everything is Divine Providence, therefore it is not mere coincidence that the name of this day carries great significance and teaching. And like my children noticed, that it always falls out during the month of Cheshvan or Kislev, the month in which Chanukah falls.

Chanukah is the festival of lights. We celebrate our miraculous victory over the Greeks and specifically how one tiny vial of oil, not even enough to last for one day, burned for eight days. And we celebrate Chanukah by lighting our menorah, each day increasing in the amount of wicks we ignite, thereby adding more light to the world around us.

Yet interestingly enough, the month of Cheshvan and the month of Kislev in which Chanukah falls, are the months with the shortest days and longest nights. What this means is that this is the time in which there are the fewest hours of light and the most hours of dark. When we are in the dark, it is hard to see what we have. It is hard to appreciate or even acknowledge what is around us. In the dark it is easy to feel lost, forlorn, as if there is nothing that can save us. So how do we counter that? We add light. We start with one flame and we steadily increase. And what do we see? That all it takes is a little light to dispel a lot of darkness. That even if we only have one flame, the power of the flame is that it can ignite another without diminishing of itself, and that flame can continue to light yet another and another until the light overtakes the darkness.

So back to Thanksgiving, I realized that there is a beautiful lesson, a lesson that we learn and live every Chanukah. How is it that we give thanks? How is it that we show that we truly are appreciative of what we have in our lives? It is not by merely being thankful, but by being active in that thanks, and active thanks is expressed through GIVING. If I want to truly thank you, I will turn around and do something positive, helpful. And the more I give, the more I have to be thankful for, as through giving to others, we are able to truly appreciate what we have for ourselves.

And it is interesting that Americans celebrate Thanksgiving by eating Turkey. The word for Turkey in Hebrew is hodo which is from the word hod meaning "thanks." After all, as said above, everything is Divine Providence so hard to ignore the fact that the very food eaten on Thanksgiving means "thanks" in Hebrew!

So as our fellow Americans eat their Turkey and as we prepare to head into our festival of lights, may we always be blessed to remember that we not only have much to be grateful for, but that in order to express our thanks, we must give. And even if it appears that we are only giving a little, when we remember that we are a flame, then we will remember that all it takes is the ability to ignite one other wick to start the chain reaction of bringing more light into this world!