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18.  MODIM (Hoda’ah)


Several preliminary points:

A.  From a reader on proper pronunciation of two words in the bracha: 

Ki lo chaLU Rachamecha

Ki lo SAmu

 To mispronounce  as CHAlu makes it into a ches and means exactly the opposite, that His rachamim is not chal, c”v.

Ki lo chaLU with a chaf means that His Rachamim has not finished!


B.  The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 101, seif katan 3) brings that according to some Poskim the Kavannah in Peirush HaMilos of this Bracha is so essential, that if one has not done so --it is me’akev--just as in the Bracha of Avos!  Review the bracha--is there any word that you do not understand--and if not--is there any reason why you cannot dedicate yourself to thanking Hashem with every single word of the bracha?

C.  In fact, HaRav Yonasan Eibeschutz, Zt’l, in the Sefer Ya’aros Devash teaches:  “ In this bracha one should give personal shevach to Hashem for the wonders that Hashem provides on his behalf daily.   One must realize that the Ba’al HaNess does not always appreciate the Nissim that occur to him, and that each and every one of us is the recipient of many nissim nistarim daily.  Additionally, based upon the Zohar, HaRav Eibeschutz  writes that one must be especially dedicated to giving hoda’ah daily on the return of his soul to his body the previous night.  This may be the basis for the special thanks in the bracha for “VeAhl Nishmoseinu HaPekudos Loch”. The gift of our Neshamos returning daily--something never, ever to forget as evidenced by the bracha of Elokai Neshama--and the Anshei Kenesses HaGedolah help us tremendously by giving us the reminder--and even the Nusach--to especially thank Hashem for this in the bracha of Hoda’ah three times a day!



A.  From a reader, as taught by Rabbi Pinches Friedman, Shlita:  “It may be difficult to have Kavannah for all 100 brachos a day.  Perhaps we can take solace from the words of the Da’as Zekainim MiBa’alei HaTosfos (Parshas Eikev), who teach that the Chachomim established saying Modim three times a day, to correspond with the 100 Brachos, and by saying Modim, which has the numerical value of 100, with proper concentration, it is considered as if we said all 100 Brachos with proper concentration.”  Hakhel Note:  Let us be guided by the words of the Da’as Zekainim!


B.  As noted last week, the Bracha of Retzei is the Bracha of Avodah--our great desire to return to the complete service of the Bais HaMikdash.  After we conclude this Bracha, we immediately bow down to the words of Modim Anachnu Lach.  HaRav Yosef B. Soloveitchik, Z’tl, (Boston; RIETS) explains that our bowing down as we begin Modim is an immediate reaction to our heightened awareness of the Avodah of the Bais HaMikdash that we seek--as we now sense ourselves awed and as if in the Bais HaMikdash--concomitantly humbled and spiritually elevated by the moment! Hakhel Note:  Feel the sublimity each and every time--and it will be much easier when the actual moment arrives!


C.  It is extremely important to note that the first thing that we thank Hashem for in Modim--even before thanking Him for our life every moment (i.e., “Al Chayeinu HaMesurim BeYadcha”) is Sho’atah Hu Hashem (Yud-Key-Vuv-Key--the Name of Mercy), Elokeinu (our G-d--Who watches over us with Hashgacha Pratis),  V’Elokei Avoseinu (our relationship goes back thousands of years--through Avrohom Avinu!), LeOlam VaEd (not only has this been the case for thousands of years, and is the case now--but it will be so forever and ever).  No one  else can come anywhere near making these claims--this is a tremendous amount to be thankful for--and we should not let these precious diamond-studded words pass us by without appreciating their monumental meaning!


A.  The Sefer Seder HaYom beautifully points out that not only does Hashem save us from Tzara V’Tzukah, and not only does He provide Nissim V’Nefla’os on our behalf (the multitude of which we do not even know about)--but all of this is done within the context of the Galus that we are in--surrounded by enemies of all shapes and sizes--who or which may even be in the diverse forms of friendly world leaders on the one hand, and technological advancements aimed at our youth on the other.  Yet, we miraculously continue to thrive as Torah Jews, because Hashem saves us from their schemes, plans and designs.  The Seder HaYom writes that this in fact is why the Bracha of Hoda’ah is placed immediately after the Bracha of Avodah--for although we were deserving of the Mikdash to be destroyed and for us to be driven into this exile--Hashem has not forsaken us or been repulsed by us--but rather His Chesed continues to be with us, and He longs for the day when He can fulfill His Bris with us--and have full Nachas from His children.  


B.  It is certainly no coincidence (as it never is) that the only two critical Brachos in which we bow to Hashem are Avos and Hoda’ah, at the beginning and end of the Bracha.  One should consult with his Rav as to how the manner of one’s bowing when reciting Modim Anachnu Lach at the beginning of the Bracha differs from the bowing at Baruch Attah Hashem at the end of the Bracha.  The Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah writes that our bowing is meant to indicate our humility at the realization that we are unworthy of all the gifts that Hashem gives us, and that in truth we can never ever thank Him enough.  As one bows, one should accept upon himself Hashem’s Mastery and Kingship, as a subject bows before his king.  See the Sefer Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvodah for further detail. 


C.  The Bracha continues with the words Nodeh Lecha U’Nesaper Tehillasecha--we thank You and we relate Your praises.  We should recognize that there are instances in which we may not go into detail when thanking Hashem--but there are other instances in which our thanks and appreciation should be expressed in detail (Nesaper--like a story).  With the words of Nodeh and Nesaper, we recognize that we must think about and express our Hoda’ah to Hashem both quantitatively and qualitatively!


A.  We especially thank Hashem for “Ahl Chayeinu HaMesurim BeYadecha.”  We should think as we recite these words that we are not only thanking Hashem for granting us life minute after minute, but also for every aspect of our bodies and souls within us.  We can quickly think up from the bottom of our feet to the top of our head--and recognize how much is working--that we must admit would not be functioning--but for Hashem’s empowerment and graciousness--oh we have so much to be thankful for.


B.  We note that the entire Bracha is in the plural form (as is the rest of Shemone Esrei).  We do not only thank Hashem for ourselves personally, but also for our immediate family, broader family, friends, community, and all of Klal Yisroel. 


C.  Ve’Ahl Nifleosecha” refers to the Niflaos HaBorei which we experience as’teva’--the sun shines, the car starts, gravity is keeping things (including me) on the ground, I can speak to (and even simultaneously see) someone 6,000 miles away by pressing a few buttons on a small object. You can think and thank for different niflaos all the time!


D.  There are two opinions as to what the term “Erev VaVoker VeTzaharaim” applies to--some say that it refers to the different kind of miracles, wonders, and goodnesses that happen at different times of the day--evening, morning and afternoon..  Others learn that the phrase refers to the times that we praise Hashem--i.e., our three Tefillos.  If you are unsure--you can certainly have both of the marvelous Kavannos!


A.  As a reader pointed out, one of the descriptions of Hashem in the Bracha is HaTov.  With this, we express that everything Hashem does is absolute good.  Hakhel Note:  We actually use the term HaTov again at the end of the Bracha itself--HaTov Shimcha. 


B.  We continue in the Bracha, by reciting that because we recognize all the goodness and wonders that Hashem performs on our behalf, we will bless and uplift His name Tomid and LeOlam VaEd.  Tomid indicates constancy, throughout the day.  With LeOlam VaEd, we exclaim that not only do we thank you daily now--but that these daily thanks will continue forever and ever! 


C.  We then exclaim that we will praise Hashem’s name B’Emes.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, explains that B’Emes mean B’Kavannah.  If we are going to express our thanks, it must be with meaning, thought, and feeling--otherwise it is simply not thanks. 


D.  Towards the end of the Bracha, we recite-- Yeshuaseinu Ve’Ezraseinu Selah.  We note that the terms Yeshua and Ezra mirror the terms in the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Ozer U’Moshia.  The difference between Yeshua and Ezra is that by Yeshua we mean that Hashem saves us from c’v a Tzara.  By Ezra we mean that Hashem helps us in anything and everything that we do.  The word Selah teaches that Hashem is our Savior and Helper every moment and forever.


E.  Finally, we conclude the Bracha with the phrase U’Lecha Na’eh LeHodos.  We are not expressing our thanks simply because we have to, or because it is right--as one would have to say thank you to his host or benefactor--but because it really feels nice and beautiful to do so.  It gives us Hana’ah--we feel good about--expressing our thanks and recognition of the gifts, kindnesses, and eternity that Hashem bestows upon us!


---------------------------------------------  SECOND SET  --------------------------------------------------------------


Hoda’ah is such an important bracha that the Mishna Berurah writes that if one did not have proper Kavannah in the bracha of Avos, then there are Poskim who rules that having Kavannah in this bracha of Hoda’ah satisfies the minimum Kavannah requirement.  The Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl (Brachos 27) brings from the Sefer Rokeach that Kavannah is me’akeiv either in the Bracha of Avos or in the Bracha of Hoda’ah, and so if one did not have Kavannah in the Bracha of Avos, he should be sure to have Kavannah in the Bracha of Hoda’ah in order to fulfill the Mitzvah of Tefillah.  The Sifsei Chaim explains why the Bracha of Modim is so crucial that it could be equated with the Bracha Avos in this sense--‘for the ikar of Tefillah is a feeling of our sheer dependency on and subservience to HaKadosh Baruch Hu--to know and feel that everything comes from Hashem--and this is exactly what we express in the Bracha of Hoda’ah.  The word “Modim”, explains the Sifsei Chaim, bears two meanings:  (a) to be Modeh Al HaEmes--to admit to the truth, and (b) to express Todah or thanks and HaKaras HaTov to Hashem.  Of course, the two thoughts are related--once we recognize that Hashem directs everything, we express our thanks for all that He does for us.  The first thing we recognize/thank Hashem for is that he is “Hashem Elokeinu”.  As we have noted in the past, the term Hashem Elokeinu refers to Hashem’s Rachamim towards us, and His Hashgacha Pratis over us in all matters.  We may accordingly suggest that the first words of the Bracha express the theme beautifully:  Modim Anachnu Lach”--we thank Hashem that we are His! 


The next phrase is “Sho’attah Hu Hashem Elokeinu V’Elokei Avoseinu LeOlam Va’ed--that You are our G-d and the G-d of our forefathers forever.”  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, first points out that Atta Hu puts together the second and third ‘person’, which is similar to all of our brachos, in which we say:  Atta Hashem”--noting our unique relationship to Hashem both in the second and third ‘person’.  We then continue stating that Hashem is our Elokeinu, before mentioning that he is Elokei Avoseinu.  Our relationship with Hashem is primarily based on our own closeness to Hashem, but the basis of this ability is definitely Hashem’s bond with the Avos.  [This concept is similar to the words of the Shira where the Pasuk says “Zeh Keili V’Anveihu Elokei Avi VeAromemenu”--in which we first express our personal relationship with Hashem, before ‘going back’ to describe our forefathers’ connection with Him.]  HaRav Friedlander points out that Elokeinu V’Elokei Avoseinu LeOlam Va’ed describes our closeness to Hashem in three time periods, the present--Elokeinu, the past--Elokei Avoseinu, and the future--LeOlam Va’ed.  We then continue with two further descriptions of our relationship with Hashem--Tzur Chayeinu and Magen Yisheinu--the Rock of our life and the Shield of our salvation.  By the ‘Rock’ of our life, we mean that our living breaths have a source in Him, He is the Rock from which our lives or hewn, and also that He is a Rock upon Whom we lean and support ourselves, as the Pasuk (Devarim 32:37) expressly states “Tzur Chasayu Vo--the Rock Whom all of our trust is in.”  By the term “Magen Yisheinu--the Shield of our salvation” we recognize that Hashem shields us from tzaros even before they come (Magen), and even if they do come, He saves us from the tzara (Yisheinu).  We have only begun the Bracha--and we see how packed it is with precious and priceless meaning!


The next phrase is “Atta Hu--You are”.  This is the second time within the first several words of the Bracha that we recite the phrase Atta Hu--representing our unique relationship to Hashem in the second and third ‘person’ is mentioned within the Bracha.  The next phrase is “L’Dor VaDor--from generation to generation”.  The Iyun Tefillah presents two possibilities as to the meaning of this phrase within the Bracha.  The first is that it concludes the previous words of Tzur Chayeinu Magen Yisheinu Atta Hu--L’Dor VaDor.  In other words, we thank Hashem for being the Rock of our life (as described yesterday) and the Shield of our salvation (as described yesterday) from generation to generation--for, as we describe in the Haggadah, “Bechol Dor VaDor…in each and every generation they stand up to destroy us.”  A second p’shat in L’Dor VaDor , writes the Iyun Tefillah, is that it is the introduction to the next phrase of Nodeh Lecha U’Nesaper Tehillasecha--meaning that in each generation we thank You for the unique gifts and Hashgacha that You give to that generation.  Indeed, the Chasdei Hashem change in accordance with the needs of the time and the needs of the place.  The difference between the terms Nodeh and Nesaper is that Nodeh refers to our thanks personally as expressed directly to Hashem, while Nesaper means that we relate to others and publicize that which Hashem has done for us (as in the popular song taken from the Pasuk in Tehillim (107:8) “Yodu Lashem Chasdo VeNifliosav Livnei Adam”).  While it may be inappropriate to sing the words of Modim--we can certainly feel the joy while expressing our thanks!



Yesterday, we noted the difference between Nodeh Lecha and U’Nesaper Tehillasecha.  Now, the Bracha lists specific categories of what we thank Hashem for:


1)  Al Chayeinu HaMesurim BeYadecha”--for our lives that are in Your hands--i.e., that we live and breathe!  Hashem’s Chesed is so great that we continue to live even during the time that we speak Lashon Hara, as we walk in late to shul, as we disturb someone’s learning, as we pain someone physically or with words.   Moreover, with every moment of life He grants us here, He gives us the opportunities we need to be zoche to more and more life--in this world, and the eternal life of Olam Haba.


2)  VeAl Nishmoseinu HaPekudos Lach”--and for our souls that are deposited with You every evening, which are returned refreshed in the morning. Even if we owe Hashem huge apologies for what we did the day before, He still graciously renews us for another day, hopefully of betterment.  We very well understand why before going to sleep, we recite the Pasuk “BeYadecha Afkid Ruchi Padisa Osi Hashem Kel Emes”, and when we arise why we recite “Modeh Ani Lefanecha…!”


3) “VeAl Nisecha Shebechol Yom Imanu”--and for the miracles that are with us every day.  This means to include not the major miracles, but the more private, hidden miracles that keep the person going every day…the continuous miracles of the human body, one’s physical and mental health, one’s Parnassah….


4) “VeAl Nifliosecha VeTovosecha She’bechol Eis, Erev, Vavoker, VeTzaharayim”--and for the wonders of life and for the goodness that we see bestowed upon us--at all times, evening, morning and afternoon.  Some learn that the phrase Erev, Vavoker, VeTzaharayim refers back to when we thank Hashem--at all times, morning, evening and during the day.  Others learn that it refers to when He showers His wonders and goodness upon us--every day, throughout the day.  Both are certainly true! 


We note that one should definitely put his thought into the four concepts above, personalizing them to one’s own life, especially thinking of particular examples as he recites the words (and they certainly can be different examples daily--Boruch Hashem!)



The next phrases of the Bracha are:  


1.  HaTov Ki Lo Chalu Rachamecha VeHaMerachem Ki Lo Samu Chasadecha…--Hashem is the Good One Whose mercies are never exhausted and the Merciful One Whose kindnesses never end.”  The commentaries explain that Hashem has Rachmanus on us and spares us punishments that we may otherwise deserve, and then, beyond not punishing us--He showers His unending Chesed upon us.


2.  VeAl Kulam Yisborach VeYisromam Shimcha Malkeinu--and for all of these may Your Name be blessed and exalted our King continuously and forever.”  Here, in recognition ‘of all the above’ all of the Chasdei Hashem which we have mentioned until this point, we ask that Hashem allow the entire world to recognize that Hashem is Baruch--the source of all blessing and Romeim--exalted above all.  With the term Shimcha we express that we really cannot fathom Hashem, but just that we know Him by how He conducts Himself in this world--which is His ‘Name’ so to speak.  This sought after time of Yisborach V’Yisromam will also be a time of “VeChol HaChaim Yoducha Selah VeYehalelu Es Shimcha BeEmes…-- when everyone alive will thank You forever and truly recognize and praise You.” 


3.  The Bracha concludes:  Baruch Atta Hashem HaTov Shimcha U’lecha Na’eh LeHodos--Whose Name is Good and to Whom it is pleasant to give thanks.”  Here, we recognize that all of Hashem’s actions in this world emanate from His Good, and we make it clear that we are thanking Hashem not only because it is the right thing to do as HaKaras HaTov, but--because we feel true pleasure in doing so!



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