Chanukah-Blessing 18: Modim: Connecting 2
Picture a woman who has just given birth. She has just experienced the intense high and joy of connecting to life, she has intimately connected to God in bringing life into the world.
However, it is a one-time miracle, something that happens once with each birth.
In order to maintain the connection, to make this most singularly powerful experience last, she can use the act of nursing, feeding, holding, nurturing the child to build on that connection and maintain it. The more we develop that connection, the easier it becomes to use it in our prayers and in our relationship to God.
Sometimes, when we want our connection to God to be our prayer, it is frustrating. When we pray, the prayer itself doesn’t always provide us with that connection. But if, instead of making the prayer that strong connection, I first try to connect to God by being able to relate to an experience I had, like for example the miracle of childbirth, the ability to feed and nurture a child, if I focus on that and build my prayers on that, then this connection empowers my prayers.
That is why “Modim” is such a wonderful blessing. When I am thanking God for the miracles as well as for all the little things that go into our lives, day in, day out, minute by minute (as is stated in the blessing), then, I am building my connections. The prayers are not the connections, my life is. We thank God for being able to wake up, to breathe, for the gift of children, for a world that is so beautiful. Then we place our prayer on top of the connections we have created… and this is what makes our prayers soar.
That is why, when the Chazzan repeats the Shmone Esrei, and repeats “Modim”, we say our own “Modim”. Because you can never have someone else make that connection for you. If you are relying on the Chazzan, then it is simply a prayer.
But if you say it yourself, while the Chazzan is repeating the Shmone Esrei, you are truly connecting.