START YOUR DAY BY GIVING THANKS TO THE LIVING AND ETERNAL KING, AND PLACING YOUR BURDENS IN HIS TRUST.
By Rabbi Chay Amar
A waking with the consciousness of Modeh Ani is so important because when the first thought of the morning is awe and surrender to the Highest Power, the day that follows is likely to unfold quite differently. With this consciousness, we admit G-d into our work, our home, our lives, relieving us of the notion that the entire burden rests on us. As the Book of Psalms advises: “Cast your burden upon G-d, and He will sustain you.”
Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski, the famous psychiatrist and founder of Gateway, was once called into the psychiatric ward of a hospital to deal with a deeply depressed man who had been standing for hours with his arms outstretched to the heavens. No one could get the man to budge, but the rabbi went in and after a few minutes, the man lowered his arms and walked away seemingly happy. When the hospital personnel asked the rabbi how he managed to cure this man so quickly, he said that he merely copied the man’s gesture. By so doing, the rabbi communicated to the man that he was not alone holding all the problems of the world in his hands, and since someone else was willing to hold them, the man was relieved and could finally give up.
Unfortunately, many of us think that we have to solve all the problems that besiege us—be they financial, emotional or familial. I myself have been in that place, and it certainly felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders when my bank account was overdrawn and I had to borrow money just to buy groceries, but then I learned an important lesson from a young yeshiva student.
When we say Modeh Ani, we surrender our ego to G-d, and in so doing, we also surrender our worries.
In Israel, married yeshiva students are given a small monthly stipend by the kollel, the study group to which they belong. The stipend is so tiny that it can barely feed one person for a month, much less a family. Naturally, the students all have part-time or night jobs, but it is still very difficult for them to make ends meet.
One such student found it impossible to pay his bills, and he turned to G-d, saying, “G-d, my house is your house, my car is your car, my bills are your bills.” Then he proceeded to live his life with that mindset. He opened his home to anybody and everybody who needed a place to sleep. He fed strangers. If somebody needed a car, he lent it to that person. From that moment on, everything changed in his life. Every month, somehow, money came his way—through an unexpected tutoring job, a donation, or a gift from a relative. Though he would often think at the start of the month, “I don’t know how I am going to make it,” by the end of the month, some small miracle somehow always manifested itself. This was because he gave up trying to hold every problem in his hand, and he cast his burden upon G-d, who in turn, sustained him.
Once we recognize that our problems are not really our problems because our lives are not really in our hands, we can wake up every morning thanking G-d for the miracle of His sustenance. We can say, “I give myself over to you. I recognize that You are the Ultimate Truth and that all my challenges are illusory, all my problems are lies before the Ultimate Truth.” By acknowledging that our wellbeing rests in the hands of G-d, we calm down, our blood pressure returns to normal, and we can go on to have a day filled with serenity, because throughout the rest of our waking hours, we will feel an attachment to G-d and His guiding presence in all that we do.
1 Rabbi Menachem Mendel Morgenstern of Kotzk (1787-1859) was a Hassidic leader known for his down-to-earth philosophies. His sayings were collected in a work entitled Emes veEmunah (“Truth and Faith”).