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מודה אני | Returning the body to the soul: an adaptation of Modeh Ani by Moshe ibn Makhir

Last year around this time, I was sitting with Ya’qub ibn Yusuf in his bookstore, Olam Qatan (then at 54 Emek Refaim in South Jerusalem), asking if he might share some useful practice that I might share through the Open Siddur Project. He offered this thought which he had heard from someone else. (Unfortunately, Ya’qub could not remember who taught this insight. If you know its origin, please share in the comments.) He said,

I have difficulty with the idea of thanking God for “returning my soul to me” sheheḥezarta bi nishmati when I’m getting up with an awareness of trying to stay in touch with my dreams. It’s not my soul that’s been missing through the night; I’m returning to experience my body. So I much prefer what I heard someone suggest, that instead of saying nishmati (my soul), to say instead han’shamati (the embodiment of my soul). I thank God for returning me to my body — my soul was never missing! In the words of my Sufi teacher Murat Yagan, “I am a soul, and I have a body.”

Hebrew (source) English (translation)

מוֹדָה|מוֹדֶה אֲנִי לְפָנֶיךָ
מֶֽלֳךְ חַי וְקַיָּם
שֶׁהֶחֱזַרְתָּ בִּי
הַנְשָׁמַתִי
בְּחֶמְלָה
רַבָּה אֱמוּנָתֶךָ‏׃
So thankful am I before you,
Living and enduring Majesty,
for you have returned to me
the embodiment of my soul
with compassion.
So great is your faith!

Modeh Ani first appeared as an addendum in Seder ha-Yom (1599) by Moshe ibn Makhir of Safed. Translation is mine. Read more on Modeh Ani from Shmuel Gonzales at Hardcore Mesorah.

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