Upon awakening, we begin our prayers with Modeh (Modah) Ani. We give thanks to G-d for his compassion, kindness and faithfulness for restoring our soul so we may live another day.
Modeh Ani, however, is considerably more than a prayer of thanks and gratitude. Modeh also means to acknowledge, admit to, and to accept. To what are we acknowledging, admitting to and accepting? We are acknowledging a G-d, a divine force or “One-ness” of our understanding, or to a “Some-thing” both greater than us and from whom “necessary rules” emanate and to a “Some-thing” we cannot control or manipulate.
In this time of the Covid-19 virus, I see the Modeh Ani prayer as our most important and critical prayer. Every minute we make a choice about life. What I do may endanger my life and the life of another. Do I wear a mask? Do I keep social distancing? Do I wash my hands after being in a public space? Or, do I refute the science because it is inconvenient for me? Or, do I find that the restrictions do not fit my political ideology? Or, do I say, “I am different than the rest, I do not have to worry?” Do I put myself above the current social contract?
The Modeh Ani prayer challenges us to look at how we make decision and how we let our biases…our prejudices…and our egos potentially put our lives and the lives of others at risk. Do I wear a helmet while riding a bike? Do I exercise? Eat healthy? Do I speed when driving? Just have a “couple drinks then drive? Do I conserve energy? Do I stay on the marked trail or do I just wander where I want regardless of risk to myself or to the environment?
The Modah Ani is our first prayer because how we live our lives depends upon the nature of our personal “One-ness” and how that force informs and directs our actions. Continually, Modeh Ani challenges us to examine how we respect both ourselves and others. Modeh Ani confronts how we honor and follow the “rules” designed to promote harmony within our family, among friends and in society.
Let us embrace the challenges and gifts of Modeh Ani so we can build a life of integrity and sh’laymoot– wholeness, fullness and peace.
Modah Ani… I am grateful for begin alive… for another day of opportunity. I am grateful for another day in which I am guided by that One-ness that is beyond my comprehension and understanding. I am grateful for the discernment, knowledge and wisdom the One-ness gives me to honor life… for the comfort in knowing that my choices are guided by the intention of creating harmony, wholeness and wellness within myself, my family, my friends, and my community. Modah Ani… I am thankful for the gift of being able to make choices to preserve life. Modeh Ani. Amen.