This time let me gracefully thank Hashem. (29:35)
Gratitude is an inherently Jewish characteristic. The Chidushei HaRim asserts that we are called Yehudim
because we give thanks to the Almighty.
We wake up in the morning, and the first thing that we recite, our very first prayer of the day, is
"Modeh Ani lefanecha melech chai
v’kayam shehechezarta bi nishmasi b’chemlah rabbah emunasecha"
“Thank you, living andeternal king, for mercifully returning my soul within me"
is your faithfulness.” The Jew begins his day with hodaah, giving thanks.
I recently read a short vignette about this very special, meaningful prayer. There
was a convention of neurologists from all over the globe who gathered to discuss a variety of neurological issues. One of the primary topics was the phenomenon of people fainting upon rising from bed. One of the speakers, a female neurologist,
delivered results from the latest findings that this fainting is caused by the sharp transfer of positions
from lying down to standing up. She calculated that it takes approximately twelve seconds for the blood
to flow from the feet to the head, and when a person stands up upon awakening, the blood is thrown too
quickly to the brain, creating a fainting spell.
Her suggestion was simple: upon waking up, one should sit on the bed for twelve seconds, count
to twelve and then stand up. This approach will prevent dizziness and fainting. This seems like a simple
solution to a pressing problem. Indeed, everybody applauded her solution.
professor, who happened to be a Torah-observant Jew, asked for permission to address the assemblage. He said, “We Jews have a tradition that dates back thousands of years. We recite a prayer of thanksgiving to the Almighty every
morning upon waking up. We offer our gratitude for having merited to wake up healthy and whole. The
prayer is called Modeh
Ani. It is recited
while one is still on the bed and sitting up. The prayer consists of twelve words, and – if you concentrate
and say it slowly-- it takes exactly twelve seconds to say.”
When we begin the day recognizing our greatest Benefactor, we go through the day with an altogether different outlook: one of deep-rooted gratitude to Hashem for all that
He does for us. Hodaah has another meaning: to give eminence or majesty, hod. In Sefer Tehillim
18:11, David Hamelech says, Vayede al
kanfei ruach, “He flew
high on the wings of the wind.” In another pasuk
in Tanach, the word “hodaah”
is used to mean “lifting
up” or “carrying”. Thus, the same word which is used to thank is also used to give eminence, to elevate.
Horav Avigdor Miller, zl, derives a fundamental principle from here. When we have cause
to thank, pay gratitude
to a benefactor, we become dutibound to study his eminence, to elevate him and to recognize his virtues. This is all part of gratitude. When
we recognize the need to thank Hashem, we, in turn, apply ourselves to acknowledging His eminence.