Laugh, SURRENDER & say thanks

Good morning dear readers!

I’ve been a little discombobulated these week. 🙃 

Today’s incident happened in an all-you-can-eat Chinese Hot Pot restaurant. Finishing up a delicious meal with some of my very favorite people, I joked that I can be a bit flighty. As if to prove my authenticity, I stood up, and behold! The remainder of my hot pot soup somehow landed squarely in my lap, upside down…broth, oil, vegetables, chicken and all. 😳

Yesterday’s event tops this. I am still recovering.

I lost my mother’s engagement ring… I was sure I had put it in my bank’s safety deposit box where I keep everything special, but it wasn’t there!

Finally, at wit’s end, for some reason I called my guardian angel friend. Lo and behold… she told me to look in my pillow.

👀 WHAT?!

She said I had told her two years ago if anything ever happened to me, to tell my kids to look inside the pillow for my mother’s special ring.

Crazy!

I looked.

It wasn’t there.

Even after I pulled all the stuffing out of the decorative pillow, YES I DID, it wasn’t there.

A lot of hullabaloo later, I found it inside a little hot pink travel pillow in the garage (next to the give-away stuff!) I also found a SECOND ring in this pillow that I had lost many years ago and forgotten about.😮

Well that’s it. I’m all caught up with my special belongings and they’re all safe and sound, out of my reach, at the bank now, but man…

I’m still a little discombobulated. I need a sweet little post this week to share with you.

Modeh Ani.

That’ll be it.

The Modeh Ani, as many know, is the morning prayer that a Jewish person says upon awakening. It is the very first thing we do, think, say. If I happen to think something else first, I quickly stop and say the Modeh Ani as soon as I remember. It is said while still in bed.

Here is the prayer.

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

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

The English translation is:

I give thanks to you, 
living and eternal King,
for you have returned my soul to me,
with compassion, 
how great is your faithfulness.

Now…here’s my confession.

While I’ve done this prayer for a number of years, one little tiny thing has bothered me.

Many mornings, I wake up NOT feeling grateful.

I’m a little embarrassed. What kind of person isn’t grateful to have one more day? It’s not like I was depressed. Just not necessarily happy each morning.

I told myself, “just do it”. Eventually, you’ll too feel grateful.  Yet, after years of reciting the words day in and day out, the gratitude did not flow.

A few months ago, I was learning with a wonderful *Judaic teacher. The subject she chose that day was  the Modeh Ani prayer.

I confessed to her.  You know… my not grateful thing… 👀 

I thought she would nicely smile and explain how I could develop gratitude if I just keep doing it, yada yada yada.

Instead, and I love her for this, she said, “Right! I totally get that, I often feel that way. Lots of people feel that way.” 

I was kind of shocked. And immediately relieved.

She went on to discuss the translation of the prayer in a way that has been transformative for me. She explained,

MODEH, while it means thank you, also means admit, and, SURRENDER.

SURRENDER! That I can get behind!!

This has totally changed my whole waking up experience! Finally, I am not saying one thing and feeling another. It was kind of like having this little failure first thing in the morning. After Hindy shared with me her “me too”, and offered this shift in translation, I’ve been helped to authentically connect with G-d, first thing in the morning!  I’ve since spoken with others, and they’ve shared the same sheepish guilt about not waking up grateful. They’ve also loved this “surrender” translation. (And to think, I work as a sign language interpreter and it never occurred to me to look more deeply at these prayer translations!)

The rest of the interpretations she shared with me are wonderful too. It went like this.

Modeh: thanks, admit, surrender

ani: I

L’fanecha: You
The “I” and the “You” here mean the deepest part of me to the deepest part of you. Not just the ordinary “I” but my deepest essence connects with the deepest essence of G-d.

Melech Chai: the living King

V’kayam: who is forever

Shehechezarta : returns to us

Bi nishmati: our soul, our breath of life

B’chemlah rabbah: with compassion and mercy   
G-d does not just give us our soul back, check it off his list and move on to the next. No. G-d returns our soul with compassion, with love, with care for us. It is personal; G-d returns my soul to me, with love.

Emunatecha: with great faithfulness 
This is my other favorite part. G-d has great faith in me and in you personally. He returns our souls, knowing that we have what it takes to live this day with the purpose he entrust us with.

Lol, even when I dump my soup and tear apart my pillow…

Well, to tell you the truth, it is now 1:43 AM.

It’s actually time to say good night. Here is a beautiful good night song by Craig Taubman.

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Laila Tov.  Love, Vivi

p.s. Tomorrow morning when you wake up, here is another BEAUTIFUL song. MODEH ANI by Mah Tovu 💖  This one actually does tickle my grateful “bone”.  ©

If you think your friends might enjoy this, please share! I’d LOVE you to join our mailing list. You can sign up below or go to “Subscribe” at the top! 💖

*Judaic and Hebrew Teacher: Hindy Deitsch. Virtual learning available. Email at [email protected] 

Frog Photo by Canva.com, Teddy Bear Photo by Ryan McGuire,
Seinfeld Youtube “Yada Yada Yada” Episode for a little fun

2 thoughts on “Laugh, SURRENDER & say thanks

  1. Brian Block says:

    Lovely! No matter what may go right or wrong with the rest of your day, opening your eyes and immediately saying Modeh Ani is a refreshing attitude with which to start. By the way, the Rebbe said this was his favorite prayer.

    • Vivi says:

      Hi Brian! Yes it is. And you got me thinking…you know the expression, “you can start your day over at any point”? Well I just realized that can apply to the Modeh Ani as well. At any point in the day, I/we can start the day over, and repeat the prayer. Thanks for the inspiration!

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