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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

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)


“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)


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


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
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:

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"


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February 2017

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