The Badges We Wear

On my way to my second full day of Chaplain Pastoral Education (CPE), I realized I needed to get some gas. While pumping gas I was wearing my chaplain intern badge and my kippah, which made me think about the badges I wear and have worn in my life. It made me smile and think about how sometimes the more things change the more they stay the same.

As a chaplain I will wear a badge, and a beeper and a kippah. At times I will be on call, and will have to stay overnight at the hospital. I flashed back to another time in my life where I was required to wear and to do most of the same things listed above. In my twenties I was a military police investigator, I had a badge, and a beeper. At times I was required to be on call, I spent several nights sleeping at the police station but this time around I won’t have to carry a weapon; I think my kippah is a good replacement for a gun.

When I finished pumping I went into the Shell Gas Station. Inside the station there was Indian music playing in the background and the cashier was of Indian descent with a very thick Indian accent

She said to me, pointing at the top of her head “How do you keep that on your head.” I smiled, it was refreshing to hear that type of question, instead of the others I usually here. I told her I had clips which helped to keep in place. She said again pointing to her head “What if you have no hair. How does it stay in place. The men come in here all the time, they have no hair and I wonder, how does it stay on their head?” I told her I didn’t know and that it just stays on. As we parted she again pointed to her head and told me that she liked mine, referring to my favorite watermelon Kippah.

As I start this journey of my rabbinic formation it’s fitting that this week’s Torah portion contains the priestly blessing. A blessing for well being, sustenance and peace

May God bless you and keep you. May God smile upon you and be gracious with you. May God look with favor upon you and give you peace (Numbers 6:24-26)

The Morning Blessing-Modeh/Modah Ani

This was actually written in February 2010 (before Rav School) and featured at another online location aka Facebook, so I thought I would also posted here.

Jewish tradition states that Jews pray three times a day and recite 100 Berachot (blessings) a day; that’s a lot of praying. Actually it’s not that hard if you do all of the prescribed prayers plus do all of the blessings for just everyday occurrences such as food, washing hands, hearing good news, hearing bad news…etc etc.

For me, this presents a challenge; can you imagine going from a zero prayer practice (except in shul) to praying 100 times a day? Impossible. So I’ve decided to start off small and just focus on one prayer at a time. I will probably never be so observant to prayer 100 times a day but I do hope that by adding a prayer practice into my life I will feel more connected to the larger world around me, be thankful for life’s blessings and hopefully feel more connected to G-d.
I’m a morning person and so I’ve decided to start with the the morning blessing of

Modeh/Modah Ani:
מודה אני לפניך מלך חי וקים שהחזרת בי נשמתי בחמלה, רבה אמונתך.
Modeh/Modah ani lifanecha melech chai v’kayam shehechezarta bi nishmahti b’chemlah, rabah emunatecha.

I offer thanks to You, living and eternal king, for You have restored my soul within me; Your faithfulness is great.

Modeh/Modah is said immediately upon rising before we get out of bed and should be the first words we utter every morning. When we recite Modeh/Modah Ani we are essentially thanking G-d for giving us another day. We wake up grateful instead of thinking about what may have happened the previous day and our first conscious thoughts are spent expressing, “thank you.” As someone who has had a rough time these last few months it’s nice to wake up and kind of remind myself to be thankful instead of thinking about the stuff that weighs me down. Basically if we wake up with a sentiment of gratitude, we feel grateful, and we can continue with a more positive day; if we don’t then we won’t.