Modeh Ani: Start Your Day Off Right

(א) מוֹדֶה אֲנִי לְפָנֶֽיךָ מֶֽלֶךְ חַי וְקַיָּם שֶׁהֶחֱזַֽרְתָּ בִּי נִשְׁמָתִי בְּחֶמְלָה, רַבָּה אֱמוּנָתֶֽךָ:

(1) I give thanks to You living and everlasting King for You have restored my soul with mercy. Great is Your faithfulness.

How do we start our day?

The first words we say in the morning are Modeh Ani - literally translated as "Thankful am I". The prayer is a statement that 'I' (Ani) give thanks (Modeh) to G-d.

But why does it say Thankful am I and not I am thankful? Wouldn't that make more sense? Why are the words switched?

The very first word that comes out of our mouths should be one of gratitude. We often spend the rest of our waking day focused on ourselves, our needs, our work. It is important to ensure that we never forget to have the foundation of our day be "Thank You", acknowledging that whatever else comes in our day is from G-d. Only after that has been said do we mention ourselves.

We do not want the first word of our mouth in the morning focused on 'I', but rather shifting our perspective to one of gratitude and first saying 'thank you'.

What are 3 things you are thankful for today?

The Power of Modeh Ani

During a recent neurological conference in the United States, neurologists from around the world convened to discuss a strange phenomenon: people who faint as soon as they get out of bed in the morning.

One of the speakers was Professor Linda McMahon from Great Britain, who presented a long and complex lecture about this topic after having studied it in depth for many years. After years of observations and study, she came to the conclusion that the fainting phenomenon was the result of an overly quick transition between the prone and standing positions.

12 Seconds

Professor McMaron explained that the blood in the body requires twelve seconds for blow to flow from the feet to the brain. However, when a person gets up too fast (under 12 seconds), then the blood finds itself "projected" too fast from the feet, causing a loss of consciousness. She recommended that every person waking up in the morning, even someone who does not experience any issues, should sit up on their bed and slowly count till twelve, in order to prevent any feeling of weakness, dizziness, or fainting. Her lecture was welcomed with a very enthusiastic reaction and applause from the public.

12 Words

Then, another professor, a religious Jew, asked to speak. He said: "We Jews hold by an old tradition to recite a prayer every morning in tribute to the Creator of the World, thanking Him for granting us the privilege of waking up whole and healthy. This prayer is recited immediately upon opening our eyes, while sitting on our bed. This prayer is composed of twelve words, and if we recite it slowly, with concentration, it takes exactly twelve seconds to say.

Rabbah Emunatecha - Your trust in me is great

The wife of the Lubavitcher Rebbe was once asked by a young boy what the Rebbe's favorite prayer was. This is what she responded:

"It's a very short prayer. It's the very first prayer we say in the morning, Modeh Ani Le'fanecha - I give thanks before You, Living and Everlasting King, that You restored my soul to me with compassion, great is Your faithfulness."

"That's it?", I asked.

"Yes," she said. "That's his favorite."

I was surprised but also very happy to hear it. I adopted this prayer as my own personal favorite as well. A year later, I heard the Rebbe give a talk on the subject of Modeh Ani, and he said that the message of this prayer is that G-d has a lot of faith in us, so lets not disappoint Him. How do we know that the Creator of the World has faith in us? Because He gave us another day of life, even though it is not owed to us.

It became my life's goal - not to disappoint G-d in what I accomplished during each day. I learned that from the Rebbe.

When we recite modeh ani we are essentially thanking G-d for giving us another day. We are grateful instead of thinking about the challenges that may await us and begin by saying thank you for the opportunity to live another day. Everytime we wake up we are gifted with another day, Hashem is calling to you saying that you specifically are needed in this world for a purpose only you can do. In the morning, try and think about what that could be and what bit of good you can bring to the world, one day at a time.

How should we wake up?

The first instruction in the Code of Jewish Law (Shulchan Orech) is: Be strong as a lion when you wake-up in the morning to serve your Creator."

What do you think this means?

The way in which a person gets up in the morning indicates their general emotional state, and influences one actions throughout the day. A person with a purpose in life arises filled with enthusiasm to face a new day. One who is filled with purpose usually wakes up early in the morning, in order to accomplish more throughout the day. However, a person who has lost their values and sense of purpose lacks meaning in their life and a reason to get up in the morning. Instead, they may feel fatigued and distressed in the morning. Only when left with no choice do they finally wake up, late and sluggish, to another dull day.

Rebbe Nachman: "The day you were born is the day Hashem decided that the world could no longer continue without you"