אֲשֶׁר יָצַרְתָּ אֶת נִשְׁמָתִי וְאֶת גּוּפִי,
וְצִוִּיתָנִי לִשְׁמֹר אוֹתָם מְאֹד;
חׇנֵּנִי בְּעֹז לְהַמְרִיץ אֶת עַצְמִי בַּמִּדָּה הָרְאוּיָה.
You have created my soul and body,
and have commanded me to fervently watch over them;
grant me the courage to exert myself to the suitable degree.
מוֹדֶה אֲנִי לְפָנֶיךָ,
שֶׁנָּתַתָּ לִי אֶת הַכּוֹחוֹת הַנְּחוּצִים לְהִתְאַמֵּן;
כֵּן שׇׁמְרֵנִי נָא מִפְּגִיעָה בְּאִמּוּן זֶה,
וְעֲזֹר לְמַאֲמַצַּי לְחַזֵּק אֶת גּוּפִי
וּלְהַאֲרִיךְ אֶת יָמַי בִּבְרִיאוּת.
I am grateful to You
that You have provided me with the necessary vigor to exercise;
please continue to guard me from injury during this training,
allow me to delight in it,
and assist my efforts to strengthen my body,
and to lengthen my days in health.
This prayer was first published at the Times of Israel in an essay by Rav Shmuly Yanklowitz, “Making a blessing before we exercise!” on 15 June 2018. He writes:
Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaKohen Kook teaches that exercise can be a holy mitsvah:
[W]hen young people engage in sport to strengthen the power and spirit for the sake of the might of the entire nation, that holy service raises God’s Presence higher and higher, as it is raised by the songs and praises that David, King of Israel, expressed in the book of Psalms.
By means of supernal intentions, the inner soul rises. By means of actions that strengthen individuals’ bodies for the sake of the all, outer spirituality rises. These two together bring to perfection the arrangements of all holiness, emphasizing the character of the nation in that small phrase upon which all the limbs of the Torah depend: “In all your ways, know Him” (Orot, Orot Hatechiyah 34).
So, then, if it is a mitsvah to guard our lives and strengthen our bodies in service of our holy mission, then there should be a brakhah (blessing) before we start a session of vigorous activity; any excuse to add blessings to our day is a wonderful opportunity for personal growth! With regard to the substance of the blessing, I would propose the following language.
“הודאה לפני התרגיל | Prayer of Gratitude Before Exercise, by Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz” is shared by the living contributor(s) with a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International copyleft license.
Works of related interest:
אַ געבעט פאַר דער אימונירונג | תְּפִלָּה לִפְנֵי חִסּוּן | Prayer before a Vaccination, by Hannah Katsman
אשר יצר | Asher Yatsar prayer for recognizing the Divine Image in all our bodies, by Rabbi Emily Aviva Kapor
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