Jingles are written to be remembered, to penetrate deeply all parts of the brain, to come to mind again and again, even maddingly so. This week it has been from a coffee commercial a few years ago, “The best part of waking up, is Folger’s in your cup.”
My Hebrew school teacher, in Arlington, Virginia, Mrs. Rachel Reinitz, (Zichrona Livracha – may she be remembered for a blessing), would have most vigorously disagreed. From our earliest days with her, we were told to recite the traditional Modeh Ani prayer, bringing to mind that the best part of waking up is waking up, and acknowledging this as God’s gift for which we should be thankful. (I still recall reciting it with a towel wrapped around the top of my head as a Kippah.)
And whether or not that practice has fallen by the personal wayside, it’s very brevity stays in the memory decades after Hebrew school class.
What then? Caffeine freak that I am, it is tempting to start making the coffee. Then to relax, disconnect the cellphone from the charger, open it, and check the weather report, how the Dow Jones did the day before, and three or four news media websites. Since it takes 20 minutes for caffeine to hit the system, it makes sense.
It would seem to me, though, that there is something to be done between Modeh Ani, and the coffee and the Internet: a brief stop at the pushka, the Tzedakah box, to put something in, even a small coin.
The Talmud (Bava Batra 10a, based on Psalm 17:15) has something to say about that which is very striking: Rabbi Dosta’i the son of Rabbi Yannai explained in a sermon:…If a person gives even a perutah (the smallest coin) to a poor person, that person is privileged to sense God’s Intimate Presence, as the verse states, “I, through just-and-righteous
acts, will see Your face…”
Before the miracle of God-created coffee and human-invented world wide web, we are back again at Modeh Ani. This minimal act of Tzedakah that takes less time (even using a Keurig Coffee Maker) to make a cup of coffee, allows us into the Upper Worlds of God’s Intimate Presence (Shechinah).
Traditionally, the last thing to do before going to sleep is to recite the Shema. Whether it is a pure religious act, or as some comment relating to the simple folk, a formula to ward off the night demons, this has been the Jewish tradition for centuries.
That is what I understood until I stumbled across one more item (Midrash Proverbs, 12:20, Visotzky) to do as we drift off: Rabbi Levi said, whoever thinks to himself or herself before going to sleep at night “When I wake up tomorrow, I will do good things for So-and-So,” that person will ultimately share great joy with The Good People in the Future, in the Next World, as the verse states, “….For those who plan good, there is joy.”
Back to Boker Tov
When we are finished with whatever morning preliminaries described above, as we sit down to the computer to begin the day’s activities, we have to remember which person we thought of as we drifted off to sleep, and then to choose any one of countless ways to do something good for him or her. Now that’s the way to start the day!