We can prevent stern judgments by thanking Hashem regularly. Who can put a price tag on another day of life? We should say Modeh Ani with the greatest enthusiasm...
by Dennis Rosen
If you woke up this morning this message is for you
In the emuna CD Learn to Say Thank You, Rabbi Lazer Brody explains Rabbi Shalom Arush's teaching that the ability to see things positively is the key to enhancing our emotional well-being. Beginnings are crucial. Therefore, we should strive to generate momentum with a powerful start each day.
Hashem’s greatness is reflected in His abundant kindness
The first thing we say in the morning is Modeh Ani. We give thanks to our living King who has returned our souls with compassion and emuna. We should stop and reflect: Have we said this perfunctorily or with joy? What unbelievable compassion that Hashem has given each of us another day to live! Thank you for returning my soul to my body and granting me another day of life.
Each day should be viewed as a special gift-wrapped package from the King. The Baal Shem Tov says the world is new to us every morning - this is Hashem's gift. Every person should believe he is reborn each day.
Rabbi Brody says that people who have been in a war or crisis situation or have been critically sick and recovered appreciate this greatly. They really mean it when they thank Hashem! So should we. Sometimes Hashem puts us in a situation for the good of our souls so we learn to say thank you. Ingratitude is detrimental to our souls. Why wait till you have a crisis situation? We can prevent stern judgments by thanking Hashem regularly. Who can put a price tag on another day of life? We should say Modeh Ani with the greatest enthusiasm.
Only One Address
The second theme of Modeh Ani is that we acknowledge that Hashem is true and His Torah is true. We acknowledge that You are the Living King. You are the One giving me back my life, not “nature” or “fate” or physicians. There is No One but Him and nothing at all can happen without His command.
Believe in yourself because Hashem believes in you
We conclude Modeh Ani by referring to Hashem’s great emuna or faithfulness. This means that Hashem does everything with complete trustworthiness and infallible justice. At the same time, it means that Hashem has emuna in us! In other words, he has confidence in each and every one of us.
Often we are stuck in a rut of mediocrity because we don't think we can improve. How uplifting it is to realize that the King of the Universe believes in us. Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the first Lubavitcher Rebbe, writes in the very first chapter of the Tanya that before each person comes to this world, he or she is required to take an oath pledging to become a Tzadik. This oath is warranted because Hashem has endowed each soul with the power that enables it to fulfill its destiny in life on earth.
Rabbi Shalom Arush teaches if we don't believe in ourselves, we don't believe in Hashem. This is because we need to believe that if we make a sincere commitment to improve and pray to Hashem, He has the power to help us overcome all obstacles. Hashem is unlimited. The only limits are the ones we create by our lack of emuna and incomplete belief in the power of prayer.
Start your gratitude engine
Reciting Modeh Ani can be a jet engine of inspiration and ignite an upward emotional and spiritual spiral. To achieve this goal it must be said with concentration and feeling. As I write these words I can hear my Evil Inclination talking to me: “C’mon pal, let’s get real. Lovely concept, but this sounds like another one of your half baked pie in the sky ideas. How do you expect to be sincere and joyful first thing in the morning when you are usually waking up without enough sleep and before you even have a cup of coffee?”
We need to remember that meaningful progress is never easy and requires effort to overcome obstacles. Therefore, before we say Modeh Ani we need to think a few seconds about the greatness and compassion of our beloved Father and King. We should contemplate some of the many kindnesses we receive from Him each day. I’ll bet we can then prove the Evil Inclination wrong.
When said with full concentration and enthusiasm Modeh Ani can trigger a chain reaction of gratitude throughout the entire day. Nothing brings a person closer to Hashem than expressions of gratitude. Nothing brings a person to a level of consistent happiness as heartfelt appreciation for all the goodness in our lives. My daughter saw a great bumper sticker that said” Get rich quick: Count your blessings!” We also need to remember that the things we take for granted are the things that many other people are praying for.
Make real and lasting progress
It's vital that we do not think about these exalted concepts and then go back to business as usual. One way to ensure gradual and continuous progress is to keep a journal and give ourselves a rating each day on how we said Modeh Ani. Just like a high school teacher we can give ourselves a grade from 0 to 100 and track progress over time. This is a great way to hold ourselves accountable and gain encouragement from seeing gradual progress over time. Let’s each take a few seconds to contemplate if we remembered to say Modeh Ani this morning and if we did, how well we said it. Let’s resolve to do better tomorrow morning.
A formula for emuna and salvations
Gratitude is a both a precondition and generator of emuna. Emuna is the master key to happiness and success in this world and the next. When we realize this, we will make a determined effort to recognize the kindness of Hashem and express our gratitude to Him throughout the entire day. Rebbe Nachman teaches that when a person expresses gratitude to Hashem, all the doors of salvation swing open. Let’s get started first thing in the morning with a beautiful declaration of gratitude and then continue to thank Hashem the entire day.