Rebbe Nachman on Waking Up and Modeh Aniy
from Siddur Eit Ratzon
translated by Cantor Jordan Franzel
מוֹדֶה אֲנִי לְפָנֶיךָ מֶלֶךְ חַי וְקַיָּם שֶׁהֶחֱזַרְתָּ בִּי נִשְׁמָתִי בְּחֶמְלָה רַבָּה אֱמוּנָתֶךָ:
Modeh aniy l’fanecha Melech chaiy v’kayam
Shehechezarta biy nishmatiy b’chemlah rabab emunatecha
I am grateful to You, living and prevailing Ruler,
for you have returned my soul to me
with great compassion and faith.
My beloved child, you need to know that you must strengthen yourself like a lion to get up with alacrity, to serve the Creator, before the inclination-towards-negativity can overpower you with complaints and false accusations so that you don’t rise. And it outsmarts you and diverts your mind in the winter saying; “How are you going to get up so early in the morning when it’s so cold?” And in the summer it diverts your mind; “How are you going to get up from your bed when you haven’t slept enough?” or with other complaints and the like. For the negative inclination knows very well how to stalk a person into a pit so they can’t get up. And therefore, every God revering and vibrating person needs to overpower it and not to listen to it. And even if it weighs upon you because of heaviness of the body and idleness you should make your path the will of the King, King of kings, the Blessed Holy One and apply it to your heart.
As any person would call out to Him for any matter in which one would profit monetarily or to collect someone’s debt, or if one would cry out to Him that his money be saved from loss for example, if a fire fell in the city, certainly one would quickly get up, immediately because of the love for his money and would not be negligent. And if one needs to go to the service of a king, he would rise with alacrity and not be negligent, lest he be falsely accused, in order to be looked upon favorably by the king. Than how much more so for the service of the King, King of kings, the Blessed Holy One, that he would heedfully rise with quickness and alacrity.
And immediately when you wake up from your sleep you should say: Modeh aniy l’fanecha Melech chaiy v’kayam Shehechezarta biy nishmatiy b’chemlah raba emunatecha, and begin to think about the Blessed One and how the Blessed One fills all worlds and surrounds all worlds, that there is no existence at all except the Blessed One, and everything is entirely complete divinity. And this is a positive commandment (commandment of action) from the Torah that a person is constantly attached in his thoughts to the holy One of Blessing, as it is written, “You shall fear the Lord, your God, glorify Him, and attach yourself to Him and swear by His Name. He is your praise and He is your God, Who did these great and awesome things for you, which your eyes have seen.” (Deuteronomy 10:20-21)
And you should remind yourself of the greatness of the love and the complete compassion that the blessed holy One had for you up to now. And you should receive it upon yourself that you not be distracted in your mind from the Blessed One all day. And if possible to rise at midnight – there is nothing higher than this, in any event you should rise before the light of the day, this is a great matter. And immediately when you wake from your sleep you should strengthen yourself in your thoughts to attach your soul to the Blessed One and if possible then to focus and unify the four Names: AV, SaG, MaH, BaN, of the four worlds: Emanation, Creation, Formation, Action. It can’t be described or imagined at all how the awesome and wondrous illumination will descend on your soul because of this.
And our Rabbi, of blessed memory, has said, that this is appropriate to be a ritual for a Jewish person. Immediately upon awakening from your sleep, the minute you open your eyes, before you do anything, you should remind yourself, for a moment, of the world to come. And the reminder of the world to come needs to be in generalities first and after needs to draw the reminder to particularities. You will expand your consciousness in thought, speech, and action in order to observe and contemplate very well all the causes and concerns that the Blessed Name designates for you and brings about for you every day. And every day there is thought, speech, and action that is different than your fellow’s.
And you need to know that the Blessed Name concentrates His Divinity from Eiyn Sof (Infinite lit. no end) until Eiyn Tachliyt (no limit), from the highest heights to the central point of your material world upon which the Adam stands. And He designates to each person thought, speech, and action according to the day, place, and person. And he embeds in them (thought, speech, and action) hints in order that you draw close to the service of the Blessed One. And thus you need to observe all of this, to expand your consciousness and mind to understand all the hints that the Blessed Name is hinting for you, and to draw you close to the Blessed One in every time and in each place.
For in every matter, and in every service, and in every business transaction, and every single thing in the world that the Blessed Name designates to a person every day, in all of them are particular hints and you need to expand your consciousness to observe them well, to understand the hinting of the Blessed Name. However, you need to be careful to constrict your consciousness in order that you don’t expand it too much and go outside the limits of holiness. This is so your thoughts won’t stray into inquiries and confusions, but [remain] only according to your human intelligence. Thus you will expand your consciousness and your thoughts in this and you will not observe this above your level. And about this one needs to be very, very careful. And this is the general point of prayer that a person prays to the Blessed One and the thanksgiving which one thanks and praises the Holy Blessed One, that the words are concentrations to concentrate within [oneself], the illumination of the blessed Eiyn sof. And this is similar to performing the positive Mitzvot in which the light is enclothed and restricted. And therefore, when a person wakes from sleep they should immediately begin to think of the Blessed One, for everything depends on the first thought.
And you will form in your consciousness, my beloved child, how everything is completely divine and that there is no existence other than the Blessed One at all, and the Blessed One gives life and brings into being and sustains all of creation. And inanimate, vegetable, animal, and speaker they are the very essence of the vitality of His blessed divinity and whatever happens to you this day you should turn yourself over to the Blessed One. This is a very holy service of all Jews that immediately at the start of the day you will already connect yourself to the Holy Blessed One and transmit your thoughts, speech, and actions to the Blessed One.
And as our Rabbi revealed to us, “it is very good to project yourself to the Blessed One and to connect to Him. And my way is that when the day arrives, I transmit all my movements, and my child, and all who depend on me, over to the Blessed Name that everything will be according to His Blessed Will. And this is very good, indeed then there is no need to worry and to think at all if you are behaving appropriately or not since you are connected to the Blessed One. And if the Blessed One desires another matter, He is satisfied to behave in another matter according to His Blessed Will.
And therefore, look my dear beloved child, immediately thank, exalt, and praise the Holy Blessed One for all the unconditional love that He has made for you that He has returned to you your soul. And this is the gratitude that one begins in the early morning: “I am thankful before You, the living and established King, that You have returned my soul to me in compassion, great is Your faith.” ‘I give thanks to the Holy Blessed One who has returned my soul to me. And therefore it is upon me to strengthen myself in all kinds of ways that are in the world, that this day will be for me a new day. And I will merit to know that a day like this has never been in the world and will never be. And this day was created only in order to fill this day with His Blessed Divinity and with perpetual good, that is the performance of the Blessed One’s Mitzvot, and to study His holy Torah, and to pour out the heart in prayer and appeal to the Blessed One, until you reach a true connection, and to think all day only about the Blessed One, and to strengthen, reinforce, encourage, and rejoice in yourself and others.
And therefore, the Mitzvah is the greatest – to strengthen yourself in every type of way that is in the world and not to be broken. And even if you know that what ever happened to you up to now happened – descent, and falling, small mindedness, and projection – and that you have fallen into a very deep abyss from the abundance of your many misguided actions, in all of this it is on you to rejuvenate this day with a new renewal and to know that this day has never been in the world. For it is an entirely new day and will never be again in the world because the day that passes already will never be returned to you. And therefore you need to make now, certainly, a new beginning and to forget everything that has happened to you and to know that if the Holy Blessed One returns to you this day certainly He could fix on it all that has transpired in this incarnation and in all incarnations.
The principle is that you should be very strong and resolute in your mind how you will not leave the Holy Blessed One in any aspect or manner and your thoughts will not loosen their grip on this. For everything depends on your thoughts, because thought has a great power. And if your thought strengthens and gains power, over any matter in the world, you can actualize it to be so. And even if you strengthen your thought very much, that it will be such – it will be so for everything depends according to the thought to which you are clinging. And therefore it is fitting that the very first thought of the day should join with the Blessed One. And putting aside everything that is in your past, you receive upon yourself a strong receptivity, that from today and onward you return in complete sincerity to the Blessed One and do His will. And with this thought, an assistance and great help comes to you from the heavens for in truth, everything depends in accordance with the thought of Adam. If the Adam thinks only of the Blessed One then he will draw upon himself much holiness and purity.