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Three Jewish Blessings to Start Your Day

What to say first thing in the morning.

The rabbis of the Talmud teach that one should start the day by expressing gratitude to God for the simple miracles that come with being alive. They didn’t think a person should wait until they’ve dressed or brushed their teeth — or even opened their eyes — to do so. The Talmud offers this description of how one might can begin the day with blessings that coordinate with the usual behaviors of waking up:

Upon hearing the sound of the rooster, one should recite: “Blessed … Who gave the heart understanding to distinguish between day and night.”

Upon opening the eyes, one should recite: “Blessed … Who gives sight to the blind.”

Upon sitting up straight, one should recite: “Blessed … Who sets captives free.”

Upon dressing, one should recite: “Blessed … Who clothes the naked.”

Upon standing up straight, one should recite: “Blessed … Who raises those bowed down.”

Upon descending from one’s bed to the ground, one should recite: “Blessed … Who spreads the earth above the waters.”

Upon walking, one should recite: “Blessed … Who makes firm the steps of man.”

Upon putting on shoes, one should recite: “Blessed … Who has provided me with all I need.”

Upon putting on a belt, one should recite: “Blessed … Who girds Israel with strength.”

Upon spreading a shawl upon the head, one should recite: “Blessed … Who crowns Israel with glory.”

Berakhot 60b

The first blessing is recited as soon as the ancient alarm clock (the rooster) is heard. Each subsequent mundane act of the morning — opening one’s eyes, sitting up, dressing and so forth — is an occasion for reciting a blessing. By the time a person is up and dressed, according to the Talmud, they should have already uttered ten blessings.

Though they were originally intended to be said as part of a waking-up routine, today these blessings are more commonly recited as part of the standard morning prayer service. But there are three blessings Jews still commonly recite the moment their eyes blink open.

Modeh Ani: Beginning the day with gratitude

The rabbis understood sleep to be dangerous. Their way of expressing this was to say that sleep is 1/60th of death. Returning to consciousness, therefore, is a gift to celebrate. Many Jews recite Modeh Ani (literally: “I give thanks”) in bed as soon as their eyes have opened. It expresses gratitude for the return of one’s soul, suggesting that the soul departed the body for divine safekeeping at night, or perhaps an allusion to the brush with death that sleep represents.

Males recite:

מוֹדֶה אֲנִי לְפָנֶיךָ מלך חַי וְקַיָּם שֶהֶחֱזַרְתָּ בִּי נִשְׁמָתִי בְחֶמְלָה רַבָּה אֱמוּנָתֶךָ

Modeh ani l’fanecha, melech chai v’kayam, shehechezarta bi nishmati b’chemla, raba emunatecha

I thank You, living and enduring King, for You have graciously returned my soul within me. Great is Your faithfulness.

Females recite:

מוֹדָה אֲנִי לְפָנֶיךָ מלך חַי וְקַיָּם שֶהֶחֱזַרְתָּ בִּי נִשְׁמָתִי בְחֶמְלָה רַבָּה אֱמוּנָתֶךָ

Modah ani l’fanecha, melech chai v’kayam, shehechezarta bi nishmati b’chemla, raba emunatecha.

I thank You, living and enduring King, for You have graciously returned my soul within me. Great is Your faithfulness.

Learn more about Modeh Ani.

Elohai Neshama: Thanking God for one’s soul

An alternative prayer for starting the day also concerns the soul. Elohai Neshama comes straight from the Talmud (Berakhot 60b) and thanks God for imbuing us with a pure soul. It is the custom of some Yemenite Jews and some Spanish-Portuguese Jews to recite Elohai Neshama immediately upon waking.

אֱלֹהַי נְשָׁמָה שֶׁנָּתַתָּ בִּי טְהוֹרָה הִיא. אַתָּה בְרָאתָהּ אַתָּה יְצַרְתָּהּ אַתָּה נְפַחְתָּהּ בִּי וְאַתָּה מְשַׁמְּרָהּ בְּקִרְבִּי. וְאַתָּה עָתִיד לִטְּלָהּ מִמֶּנִּי וּלְהַחֲזִירָהּ בִּי לֶעָתִיד לָבֹא. כָּל זְמַן שֶׁהַנְּשָׁמָה בְקִרְבִּי מוֹדֶה אֲנִי לְפָנֶיךָ ה’ אֱלֹהַי וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתַי רִבּוֹן כָּל הַמַּעֲשִׂים אֲדוֹן כָּל הַנְּשָׁמוֹת: בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ הַמַּחֲזִיר נְשָׁמוֹת לִפְגָרִים מֵתִים

Elohai neshamah sh’natata bi tehora hi. Ata barata, ata yatzarta, ata nafachta bi v’ata mishamra b’kirbi. V’ata atid litla mimeni u’l’hachazirah bi l’atid lavo. Kol zman shehan’shama b’kirbi modeh ani l’fanecha Elohai v’Eilohei avotai, Ribon kol hama’asim, Adon kol han’shamot. Baruch ata Adonai hamachazir n’shamot lifgarim meitim.

My God, the soul that you have given me is pure. You created it, You formed it, You breathed it into me and You preserve it within me. You will one day take it from me, and restore it in me in the time to come. As long as my soul is within me, I give thanks to You, Adonai my God and God of my ancestors, Master of all creatures, Lord of all souls. Blessed are You, Adonai, who restores souls to dead bodies. 

Learn more about Elohai Neshama.

Netilat Yadayim: Purifying the hands

Some Jews ritually wash their hands before beginning their day. There are several reasons given for this. One is that sleep, perhaps because of its similarity to death, imparts impurity to the hands. Another is that it is customary to wash one’s hands before reciting prayers with God’s proper name in them. (Modeh Ani does not contain God’s proper name.) Some Jews even keep a small pitcher of water and a bowl next to their bed at night so they can perform this ritual hand washing before leaving bed in the morning. The procedure is to pour the water over each hand three times and then recite the blessing.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל נְטִילַת יָדָיִם

Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu melech ha’olam asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al netilat yadayim.

Blessed are you, Lord our God, ruler of the universe, who has sanctified us with commandments and commanded us to wash the hands.

Learn more about Netilat Yadayim.


Need a cheat sheet for your bedside? Download a printable version of these three blessings.


These three morning blessings are not the same as the Jewish morning prayer service, called Shacharit, which is preferably recited with a minyan, a quorum of ten adults. 

Learn more about Shacharit.

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