Modim Anachnu Lach – We Are Grateful To You
A translation and commentaries on this blessing
of gratitude found in the Amidah prayer.
Translation of the Traditional Prayer (by Rabbi Debra Orenstein):
We thank you, for you are our God and the God of our ancestors, forever. Rock of our lives, Shield of our salvation, you are the One, from generation to generation. We thank you and tell of your praises, regarding our lives, which are in your hands; regarding our souls, which are entrusted to you; regarding your miracles which are with us every day; and regarding your wonders and favors, which are with us every moment, evening, morning, and noon. You are good, for your compassion is never-ending. You are compassionate, for your kindnesses never cease. Our hope has always been in you.
For all these things, we bless and exalt your name, our Sovereign, constantly and forever. All living things will acknowledge and thank you, and they will praise your name in truth, God, who saves and helps us. Selah. Blessed are you, Adonai. Your essence is goodness, and it is a pleasure to give thanks to You.
Rabbi Moshe Goldberger
The Hebrew word “modim” has a gematria of 100. This is an indication of our obligation to give thanks at least one hundred times every day (Kol Bo, siman 122). “We thank You” for everything because it is all from You. “One who says Modim properly is considered to have fulfilled all 100 brachos!” (Daas Zekeinim Ba’alei HaTosfos Devarim 10:12).
Every day when you mouth the word “modim” in your davening, visually imagine one specific item for which you are thanking Hashem now!
For our lives: including everything that keeps us alive – our brain, heart, lungs, stomach, two kidneys, the liver, two hands, two feet, nose two eyes, two ears, mouth, and other organs and body parts which facilitate human life.
For our souls: the Divine spiritual entity and source of unlimited potential greatness that lies within each of us…. If you were greatly in debt to someone and then you gave him something of value for safekeeping, he would keep it as collateral. But each and every morning Hashem keeps returning our neshama to us.
We [have] always put our hope in you: Now is the time to pause to reflect about these words of prayer to Hashem, in order to be sincere while stating that: “We always put our hope in you.” (Ask yourself: What do I hope for and request from Hashem daily…?)
– Rabbi Moshe Goldberger, 100 Brachos: Counting Your Blessings 100 Times a Day.
Rabbi Shalom Arush
Rav [Yitzchok] Hutner says that the literal translation of these words is not "we thank You;" rather, the literal translation is "we admit to You.” Rav Hutner explains that the reason why these two words are identical in Hebrew is because a person's ability to give thanks is based on his ability to admit that he is incomplete. If a person gives thanks to someone, it indicates that he is incomplete -- he needed the favors and kindness of someone else. This is why it is sometimes so difficult for us to say "thank you" -- because it is so difficult for us to admit that we were in need. The greater the gifts that we receive from someone, the more difficult it is to say "thank you," because a greater gift indicates our greater need.
It is sometimes very difficult to give thanks to parents because we need them so much. They have given us so much. It is sometimes very difficult to thank our spouses because we know that we are incomplete without them.
The word for thanks is the same as the word for admission, because in order to say thank you a person must have the ability to admit that he is less than perfect.
– Rabbi Shalom Arush, Garden of Gratitude.