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Summary: Sitcoms made the term "yada" mean something boring, but the Hebrew term is the basis for a life of Thanksgiving that "in everything gives thanks."

It’s Thanksgiving! Yada! Yada! Yada!

--I Thessalonians 5:16-18

In January and April of 1997 the hit sitcoms THE NANNY and SEINFELD coined a neologism, a new phrase that has come into popular use. That neologism is “Yada [“YAW-DAW’”], yada, yada!” Elaine Benes, the character in SEINFELD played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, has this classic line: “Yeah, I met this lawyer. We went out to dinner. I had the lobster bisque. We went back to his place. Yada, yada, yada. I never heard from him again.”[SOURCE: “The Yada, Yada” Quotes as posted on web page: [http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Yada+yada+yada].

Since being used on these two sitcoms, “Yada, yada, yada” has come to mean

“boring or empty talk, something similar to etcetera or “and so forth.” [SOURCE: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/yada,%20yada,%20yada]. The true meaning of yada is far more spiritual and sublime. Both Fran Dresher, star of THE NANNY, and Jerry Seinfeld are Jewish. Yada is a Hebrew verb that means “praise, (give) thanks, or confess.” Other Jewish plots and themes run throughout both these sitcom episodes; therefore, we might well assume that the script writers most likely had an acquaintance with the Hebrew origins of the term.

Yada is the Scriptural root of Thanksgiving and praise. The plots in the sitcoms and the neologism miss this basic truth, and make YADA a catch word for boring, but our Christian faith and a lifestyle of thanksgiving and praise to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are far from boring. Praise and Thanksgiving to our Triune God is always awesome, vibrant, enthusiastic, and exciting.

The root meaning of Yada literally means “to hold out the hand.” It paints a picture of praise and thanksgiving in which God’s people lift their hands to Him in song and prayer. That’s the root heart of our Hebrew term for Thanksgiving, but the Greek term is equally powerful. It is the origin of our English word Eucharist, the term given to our Sacrament of Holy Communion. Holy Communion is always a joyous, exuberant, time of thanksgiving and praise to Jesus in gratitude that He died for you and me “while we were yet sinners,” and Paul uses this same term in our text from I Thessalonians 5:17 in exhorting, “Give thanks in all circumstances.”

I was in either college or seminary when Paul Utley, a distant cousin of mine and now long time Campus Crusade for Christ missionary, first joyfully shared that same testimony with me. At that time we still primarily used the King James translation, and Paul did as well reminding me that we should, “In everything give thanks.” This is the theme of our Thanksgiving message in 2007. “In moments like these, I lift up my hands to the Lord,” and urge each of us “in everything give thanks!”

God Almighty is worthy of our praise and thanksgiving, and the Bible distinguishes between the two. Technically we praise God for who He is and for His attributes. We praise God because He is infinite, eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, gracious, full of compassion, merciful, just, holy, our God who heals us, our Creator, our Redeemer, and our Coming King. However, our praise has “only just begun.”

On the other hand, we usually thank God for the things He has done for us. We might follow the example her of Andrae Crouch in his praise song “My Tribute” and thank Jesus because:

With His blood He has saved me;

With His power He has raised me;

To God be the glory for the things He has done.

[SOURCE: Andrae Crouch, “My Tribute” (Newbury Park, California: Lexicon Music, Inc., 1971)].

We thank God “for supplying all our needs according to His riches in glory,” for healing our bodies, for an abundant harvest, for answering our prayers; and, once again, these things only start us on our journey of giving Him thanks.

Yet while praise and thanksgiving have distinct differences, they oftentimes overlap and become synonymous. Of the 111 occurrences of YADA in the Hebrew Scriptures, the translations “give thanks” or “praise” are almost equal in number.

As disciples of Jesus Christ our Thanksgiving must become a daily lifestyle, not just a seasonal happening and tradition. As we continually surrender ourselves to the Lordship of Jesus and become more like Him, the Holy Spirit enables us to “give thanks in everything.” Andrae Crouch has another great praise song entitled “Through It All” that shows us this is possible in all our lives. He sings:

I’ve had many tears and sorrows,

I’ve had questions for tomorrow,

There’ve been times I didn’t know right from wrong;

But in every situation God gave blessed consolation

That my trials come to only make me strong.

I’ve been to lots of places,

And I’ve seen a lot of faces,

There’ve been times I felt so all alone;

But in my lonely hours,

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Timothy Huber

commented on Nov 6, 2010

Good words. However, I must comment. Although it''s been MANY years since my Hebrew classes and I certainly could be wrong on this, aren''t you confusing "yada" and "yadah"? I seem to recall that "yada" means "to know" and "yadah" means to lift hands in reverence or praise." Nevertheless, have a blessed thanksgiving!

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