I thank you, living and eternal King, for giving me back my soul in mercy. Great is your faithfulness.
(Translation from the Koren Siddur)
מֶלֶךְ חַי וְקַיָּם
שֶׁהֶחֱזַרְתָּ בִּי נִשְׁמָתִי בְּחֶמְלָה
Foundations for Planning
- How do Jewish rituals and practices enrich the way I experience my life and the world?
- How does being Jewish affect what I do in my daily/weekly life?
- How do Jewish practices reflect Jewish values?
- How does this prayer teach us about the importance of saying thank you?
- How can we strengthen our gratitude “muscles”, which we use to acknowledge the good and to say thank you?
- How do prayers encourage us to be more aware/present in our daily lives?
The Modeh Ani prayer is customarily said immediately upon waking up in the morning. It appears in the siddur as part of the Shacharit (morning) service. Its source is the book Seder HaYom, which was compiled by Avi Moshe ben Makir, who was a...
The Modeh Ani prayer is customarily said immediately upon waking up in the morning. It appears in the siddur as part of the Shacharit (morning) service. Its source is the book Seder HaYom, which was compiled by Avi Moshe ben Makir, who was a Kabbalist in Safed during the 16th century. The content of the prayer is related to the mystical idea that a person’s soul leaves while they are sleeping and is kept in God’s hands. In the morning, God returns the refreshed soul to the person. This idea can be made appropriate for young children, by explaining that when a person wakes up in the morning, all of their energy and what makes them who they are — their soul— wakes up, too.
The Modeh Ani prayer links faith with the return of the soul. We can understand this faith in at least two different ways: the faith that the individual has in God and the faith that God has in the individual. Both of these types of faith are called “great” in the prayer.
- When we wake up in the morning, all of the different parts of ourselves wake up, too. This includes everything that makes us who we are, our personality traits, strengths and abilities, which we can call our soul. To demonstrate this idea, give the students ribbons of different colors and explain to them that each ribbon represents a different trait or strength that they have, which wakes up in the morning with them. For older students: You can suggest that they write the names of different traits/strengths on the different colored ribbons. Sing or listen to a recording of Modeh Ani or a different waking-up song and have the students wave the different ribbons in time with the music, to show how all of the different traits/strengths “wake up” with them in the morning. Explain that in Modeh Ani we say thank you for the fact that our souls with our traits, abilities and strengths (our selves) wake up with us in the morning.
- Show the students pictures of different people in the morning. Ask them which picture best represents how they feel in the morning. If the students have computers, you can suggest that they look at pictures on the internet and present a picture that represents how they are in the morning. Read the Modeh Ani prayer and ask the students which picture they think best matches the prayer.
Click here to view our consolidated list of suggested interactive pedagogies for classroom discussion.
- What do you normally do in the morning? Do things that happen to you in the morning or things that you do in the morning affect the rest of your day? Give an example.
- Modeh Ani is said as soon as we open our eyes. Why do you think that our Sages thought that this is the first thing we should do in the morning?
- How do you think saying “thank you” in the morning can influence the rest of the day?
- What are you thankful for when you wake up?
- What things make you feel thankful? How do you behave with someone to whom you feel grateful?
- Present the students with a scenario that describes the start of the day. (You can do this verbally or you can pass out worksheets with a flow chart of events.) For example: In the morning, Yossi woke up and fought with his sister. -> He left the house angry and forgot his sandwich. -> At school, he was angry and hungry, etc. Have the students describe how the rest of Yossi’s day went, based on how it started, and how the course of the day was changed by an act of acknowledging the good. Discuss the effects of saying “thank you” in the morning on the rest of the day. Ask them to think about things they might want to do in the morning, to get the day off to a good start and make way for other positive experiences over the course of the day.
- Have a gratitude circle. Ask each student to think of one small thing that happened in the past few days for which they are grateful and to share their thoughts with the others. It is important to emphasize that small, very ordinary actions can be important!
- For older students: Draw a table with two columns: a person who is asleep and a person who is awake. Together with the students, list the characteristics of each person. What is special about being awake, as opposed to asleep? Suggest that they think about those special things as characteristic of the “soul” that is referred to in the prayer (for example: thought, awareness, speech, control, etc.). Ask the students to explain what a soul is, in their own words and according to their own understanding.
- The way in which we begin the day can affect how we experience the rest of the day. We can use music to reflect our feelings in the morning and to inspire desired feelings. Have the students listen to several different recordings of the Modeh Ani prayer, which each have a different rhythm and mood. Ask the students to move around the classroom as they listen and move or dance to the music. Alternatively, young children can be given a page showing different faces that express different feelings and asked to pick which face best matches each feeling. Compare the different tunes and how they make us feel (tunes may be energizing or quiet, make us feel like we’re part of a group, etc.).Ask the students which tune they’d prefer to wake up to. Why?
Some different tunes: Netanel Goldberg; Adama ‒ Avodat Lev; Adama ‒ Avodat Lev 2; Bat Ella Birnbaum ;Toronto Pirchei Choir
- Listen to the song “Todah” by Uzi Hitman, which is about acknowledging the good. (Here are the lyrics in several languages) What word is repeated in the song? Write a song of your own in which the word “todah” is repeated.
- Birchot HaShachar is another prayer that is said in the morning. It is also about saying thank you for the apparently small – yet significant – things in life.
- You can study Birchot HaNehenin – the Blessings of Enjoyment – which teach us to make a blessing over everything in the world that we enjoy.