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Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Have you said "thank you" today yet? During this month of Elul I have been trying to make sure to say thank you as often as I am able.  Gratitude is such a basic attribute, yet incorporating a sense of appreciation and thankfulness into our lives often eludes us.  Our Jewish tradition offers us a simple way to do so:  As the morning arrives each day, we are encouraged to say these words:

“I give thanks before Your Presence,
eternal and living God
who returns my soul within me
with compassion.
Abundant is Your faithfulness.”
מוֹדֶה אֲנִי לְפָנֶיךָ |
מֶלֶךְ חַי וְקַיָּם |
שֶׁהֶחֱזַרְתָּ בִּי נִשְׁמָתִי |
בְּחֶמְלָה. |
רַבָּה אֱמוּנָתֶךָ: |
Modeh ani lifanecha melech chai v’kayam shehechezarta bee nishmahti b’chemlah. Rabah emunatecha.
I remember having to be reminded to write thank you notes and say thanks as a child.  When I was a college student, my grandfather, of blessed memory, even resorted once to including, with a gift he and my grandmother sent me, a self-addressed, stamped envelope and a note for me to sign that said "Dear Grandma and Grandpa, Thanks so much for the gift.  Love, Jimmy."  I learned the lesson and never forgot to write them a thank you note again.  Ever since, I have striven to remember to say thank you, to be grateful, each day.  Some days it is easier than others. But there is so much, so very much, for which to be grateful.

While in Israel this summer I heard the music of an Israeli folk singer and poet named Meir Ariel, whose short life ended tragically in 1999.  The impact of his music and lyrics remains, however, and one of his most haunting melodies is entitled "Modeh Ani - I give thanks."  Discovered by a friend of Meir Ariel's on a homemade recording and in handwritten notes after his death, Ariel's words and music inspire me.  I hope they do for you as well:


"Modeh Ani" by Meir Ariel

מודה אני

לפניך ולך

על כל החסד והאמת
והטובה והרעה והטובה
שעשית עמדי
ועם ביתי
ועם קרובי וידידי ועם בני עמי
ועם ארצי, ועם כל העולם והאדם
אשר בראת.

בלאט, חרש חרש

אט אט, טופפות
עתידות עתידות לקראתנו,
ואת מחייכת אלי מתוך השינה.
יהיה לנו טוב, טוב מטוב, טוב מאוד,
זה מתחיל כבר בבוקר בבוקר
את צוחקת אלי
מתוך מתוך השינה.

I'm grateful

Before You

For all Your truth and grace

and the good, and the bad, and the good
That You've done with me and with my household
And with my relatives, friends and fellow citizens
And with the whole world and its people
That You've created

Slowly, and silently
Walking mincingly
Is our future to come
And You, are smiling, to me from your sleep
Things will get better, much better, you'll see
It starts early in the morning
And You, are laughing
To me, from your sleep.

Thanks for reading and listening,

Rabbi Jim Bennett

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