Sunday, December 17, 2006

Thankful awakening

יום שני כ''ז בכסלו תשס''ז

מוֹדֶה אֲנִי לְפָנֶיךָ מֶלֶךְ חַי וְקַיָּם. שֶׁהֶחֱזַרְתָּ בִּי נִשְׁמָתִי בְּחֶמְלָה. רַבָּה אֱמוּנָתֶךָ:

Thankful am I before You; the King who lives everlasting.

For You returned to me my breath in compassion; great is your faithfulness.

This short and beautiful prayer – known as modeh ani, after its first two Hebrew words – is one of those few that have found a prominent place in all the major streams of Judaism. Debbie Friedman , the folk singer who specializes in Jewish songs and who is especially popular in the Reform Movement, even chose it the basis for one of her compositions.

Traditionally, the prayer is said upon waking, before even leaving one’s bed. It expresses a profound thankfulness for another day of life and focuses a person’s attention on what the source of that renewal of life is – God, in God’s great, life-giving compassion.

For the very ill person – the person who knows that the number of days that they will again awake may be few indeed – modeh ani can have a special meaning. Reciting it every morning may not increase the number of those days, but it may help make each one of them richer by bringing the person closer to an awareness of the great Glory of God and of the great Creation that God has given us.

May you know many more days. And may they be enriched by the Light that Comes from the Heavens.


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