Waking Up with Gratitude
In the Jewish tradition, one should pray three times a day and recite 100 Berachot (blessings) a day; that’s a lot of praying. Actually, it’s not hard if you do all of the prescribed prayers, plus do all of the blessings for just everyday occurrences such as food, washing hands, hearing good news, hearing bad news, seeing something for the first time…etc etc.
For many of us, and for many of our Jewish students at Elon, this presents a challenge especially for our students who want to incorporate more Jewish practice into their daily lives. Can you imagine going from a zero prayer practice, except for maybe in shul to praying 100 times a day? Impossible. So, I believe starting off small and focusing on one prayer at a time might be easier for many. Many of us may never reach the level of offering 100 blessings a day but I do hope that by adding a prayer practice into our lives we will feel more connected to the larger world around us, be thankful for life’s blessings and hopefully feel more connected to G-d.
“But Rabbi which blessing should I start with?” Great question. I believe that starting ones day off with gratitude is the best way to start the day. Judaism is full of blessings of gratitude here’s one:
מודה אני לפניך מלך חי וקים שהחזרת בי נשמתי בחמלה, רבה אמונתך.
Modeh/Modah ani lifanecha melech (ruach) chai v’kayam shehechezarta bi nishmahti b’chemlah, rabah emunatecha.
I offer thanks to You, living and eternal spirit, for You have restored my soul within me; Your faithfulness is great.
Modeh Ani is said immediately upon rising before we get out of bed and should be the first words we utter every morning. When we recite Modah Ani we are essentially thanking God for giving us another day. We wake up grateful instead of thinking about what may have happened the previous day and our first conscious thoughts are spent expressing, “thank you.” Being a student is often challenging and hard, many of us may struggle sometimes, but the Blessing of Modeh Ani is a nice way to wake up and remind ourselves to be thankful instead of thinking about the stuff that weighs us down. Basically, if we wake up with a sentiment of gratitude, we feel grateful, and we can continue with a more positive day; if we don’t then we won’t.
Rabbi Sandra Lawson received ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in June 2018. She has served in the United States Army as a Military Police person with a specialty in Military Police Investigations, specializing in cases involving child abuse and domestic violence. Rabbi Sandra uses her rabbinic training to bring Judaism to where people already are in their lives. As a rabbinical student Rabbi Sandra received a prestigious grant to lead Shabbat services for unaffiliated Jews in a vegan cafe. She also received a grant to launch her podcast Minutes of Torah. Her vision as a Rabbi is to help build a more inclusive Jewish community where all who want to come are welcomed, diversity is embraced and we can come together to learn and to pray.