Shir Shel Shavua : Issue 13

July 28, 2023

Modeh Ani - A Great Way to Start Your Day

What’s the very first thing you do in the morning? Hit the snooze button? Check email? Head straight for the coffee? Unless you’re a real morning person, getting out of a warm bed and starting your day is tough to do. And this is specifically why there is a prayer to be recited at the very moment we wake up and even before we do or say anything else.

מוֹדֶה אֲנִי לְפָנֶיךָ מלך חַי וְקַיָּם שֶהֶחֱזַרְתָּ בִּי נִשְׁמָתִי בְחֶמְלָה, רַבָּה אֱמוּנָתֶךָ

Modeh ani l’fanecha, melech chai v’kayam, shehechezarta bi nishmati b’chemla, raba emunatecha

I thank You, living and enduring King, for You have graciously returned my soul within me. Great is Your faithfulness.

Most translations render Modeh Ani as some version of “I thank you.” And rightly so. There’s a concept in Jewish mysticism that sleep is 1/60 of death. We are by no means guaranteed to wake up in the morning, so when we do, it’s only proper that we take a moment to express gratitude for another day, for another opportunity to live our lives. It’s both ironic and unfortunate that so many of us groan in annoyance that we have to get up, without recognizing the incredible blessing that we are able to.

The wording of Modeh Ani also offers a powerful lesson. Grammatically, it would be correct to say Ani Modeh — “I thank You.” Yet, the words are in the reverse order, which translates literally as “Thank You, I.” The point is that 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. So, we want to ensure that we never forget to have the foundation of our day be “Thank You.” Only after that has been said, do we mention ourselves. (borrowed from

Whether with others, or by yourself, I am sure that you will be inspired by this fantastic, beautiful rendition of Modeh Ani: Turn up the volume and enjoy! Shabbat Shalom!

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