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The Hebrew prayer:
 “Modeh ani lefanecha melech chai v’kayam”

can be translated:

“I give thanks before you, king who is alive and exists” 

“I give thanks before You

eternal and living King

who returns my soul within me

with mercy.

Great is Your faithfulness.”

מוֹדֶה אֲנִי לְפָנֶיךָ |

מֶלֶךְ חַי וְקַיָּם |

שֶׁהֶחֱזַרְתָּ בִּי נִשְׁמָתִי |

בְּחֶמְלָה. |

רַבָּה אֱמוּנָתֶךָ: |

Modeh ani lifanecha melech chai v’kayam shehechezarta bee nishmahti b’chemlah. Rabah emunatecha.

For the above text I acknowledge the excellent blog "Hardcore Mesorah" at https://hardcoremesorah.wordpress.com/2011/08/20/modeh-ani-i-give-thanks-before-you/

A woman says it using the feminine verb form “modah” thank (f.):

“Modah ani lefanecha melech chai v’kayam”

with the same meaning as above.(Though there is a halachic view that women should say it in the masculine as this is an established reading.)

 My wife when she is feeling like it modifies it further to :

“Modah ani lefanayich malka chaya v’kayamet”

i.e. I give thanks before you, queen who is alive and exists

 Some today are uncomfortable with the metaphor of God as a monarch, so “ruach” (spirit / wind / breath) is substituted ie -

“Modeh ani lefanecha ruach chai v’kayam” (said by a man)

OR

“Modah ani lefanecha ruach chai v’kayam” (said by a woman)

ie “I give thanks before you, spirit who is alive and exists.”

 

“Ruach” is a classical Hebrew word for an aspect or name of God that occurs in the phrases “Ruach HaKodesh” (The holy Spirit), Ruach El (The spirit of God)  Ruach Elohim (The spirit of God) and Ruach YHVH (The Spirit of YHVH).

Personally, I do not have a problem with substituting the word “ruach” for “melech” or “malka”in the Modeh ani prayer (though I don’t really have a problem with the metaphor of God as King or Queen, I accept that others do).

 However I am not entirely comfortable with the wording people are using above, because “Ruach” is (almost always, but not quite always) a feminine word in Hebrew and so, I feel, the pronouns adjectives and verbs that relate to it should ideally agree and be in the feminine too.

 

For example in Genesis chapter 1 verse 2

“...Ruach Elohim merachephet al penei hamayim”

“...A wind of God hovered over the face of the waters”

Ruach (Spirit / wind) is feminine so the verb, merachefet (hovered), that follows it is in the feminine too.

 

So I prefer for the adapted “Modeh/Modah Ani” prayer to be in agreement with the feminine ie:

“Modeh ani lefanayich ruach chaya v’kayamet” (said by a man)

OR

“Modah ani lefanayich ruach chaya v’kayamet” (said by a woman)

i.e.

I give thanks before you (f.), spirit(f.) who is alive(f.) and exists(f.)

 The prayer then concludes “...shehechezart bi nishmati, b’chemla raba emunatayich”

“who has returned (f.) to me my soul, in pity, great is your (f.) faithfulness.”

My friends in the Jewish Renewal movement tell me that this is too complicated for the masses - so I suppose they can rely on the rare masculine form of Ruach also found in the Tenach. See the entry for Ruach in Brown-Driver-Briggs dictionary
http://biblehub.com/hebrew/7307.htm
where Exodus 10:13 is cited as an example of the rare masculine form:
 יג  וַיֵּט מֹשֶׁה אֶת-מַטֵּהוּ, עַל-אֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם, וַיהוָה נִהַג רוּחַ-קָדִים בָּאָרֶץ, כָּל-הַיּוֹם הַהוּא וְכָל-הַלָּיְלָה; הַבֹּקֶר הָיָה--וְרוּחַ הַקָּדִים, נָשָׂא אֶת-הָאַרְבֶּה..

Another friend informs me that in Yiddish there was a strong tendency to simplify Hebrew words and assume that any word ending in a feminine-sounding Heh was feminine and any word ending in a consonant was masculine.  I think this is what Wikipedia is describing here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yiddish_grammar#Gender

Perhaps this explains why "Tallesim" are worn in Ashkenasi shuls whereas the more Hebraically correct Sephardim wear Tallitot?

"The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind... the answer is blowing in the wind"
 

Date: 2015-07-21 07:45 pm (UTC)
lethargic_man: (capel)
From: [personal profile] lethargic_man
Interesting. I once was at a Friday night where the person asked to make הַמּוֹצִיא said (IIRC): בְּרוּכָה אַתְּ הַשְּׁכִינָה רוּחַ הָעוֹלָם הַמּוֹצִיאָ לֶחֶם מִן הָאָרֶץ׃ I had to do some very fast thinking and decide whether I could count this as a proper בְּרָכָה and say אָמֵן to it and count it as my בְּרָכָה on the bread. Following the reasoning of the rabbis in מס׳ ברכות regarding whether Benjamin the shepherd's one-line Aramaic bentshing was valid, I decided yes it was, and I would.

On later reflection, though, I'm not convinced that רוּחַ הָעוֹלָם fulfils the obligation to mention God's sovereignty in a בְּרָכָה.
lethargic_man: (capel)
From: [personal profile] lethargic_man
I guess those who say "Ruach" or "Hashechinah" or "source of life" in a berachah or rely on these formulations are acting contrary to the Orthodox halachah.

I don't think הַשְּׁכִינָה is a problem in the above, as it's being used effectively as a (feminine) identifier of God. It might not be the Tetragrammaton, but neither was Benjamin's רַחֲמָנָא, and that was okay.

(In the Amidah, the sovereignty of God is not mentioned, which is quite interesting when you thing about it.)

Oh, that's interesting. <runs through the words> No, that's not true; the first בְּרָכָה ends מֶלֶךְ עוֹזֵר וּמוֹשִׁיעַ וּמָגֵן, and that obviously stands for subsequent בְּרָכוֹת in the same way the opening בא״י אמ״ה of a chain of בְּרָכוֹת (such as the Amida or bentshing) stands for the subsequent ones, which lack the opening and only have the terminal בא״י.

Date: 2016-05-25 05:07 pm (UTC)
lethargic_man: "Happy the person that finds wisdom, and the person that gets understanding."—Prov. 3:13. Icon by Tamara Rigg (limmud)
From: [personal profile] lethargic_man
It's in the same sugya:
ורבי יוחנן אמר כל ברכה שאין בה מלכות אינה ברכה׃ אמר אביי כוותיה דרב מסתברא דתניא (דברים כו) לא עברתי ממצותיך ולא שכחתי׃ לא עברתי מלברכך ולא שכחתי מלהזכיר שמך עליו ואילו מלכות :לא קתני׃ ורבי יוחנן תני ולא שכחתי מלהזכיר שמך ומלכותך עליו
Steinsaltz adds "The Gemara generally rules in accordance with [R. Yoḥanan] in disputes with Rav."

Date: 2016-05-25 08:46 pm (UTC)
lethargic_man: (capel)
From: [personal profile] lethargic_man
Interesting... though it seems that with the exception of the listed exceptions, the Shulchan Arukh, which AIUI is authoritative for Orthodoxy, rules that one must include it (see the fifth paragraph of the article).

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