15th Elul : God believes in us
The “modeh ani” prayer said every morning on waking gives thanks for the return of the soul to the body, built on the Talmudic idea that sleep is one-sixtieth of death. According to Midrash (Gen Rabbah) Rabbi Meir taught that the soul fills the wakeful body, but during sleep it ascends to God and carries life back for the person who sleeps. And so essentially each new day is the beginning of a new life. Not a continuation of life, but a renewal, a new start. Yesterday is gone, the present gives us untold possibilities. The life our soul returns with is newly created for us as we sleep, and we wake to the fresh start, the clean page, the potential to begin again. God is the “melech chai v’kayam”, the owner of life and established being, who causes our souls to return with both the potential for life and for established being. God does this with compassion and more – “Rabbah emunatecha” reminds us that God’s faith in us is great. Each morning we wake to start life again, renewed and refreshed not only by sleep but by the brand new creation awaiting our disposal. It may not always feel like that. We may not want to let go of the past, or of feelings or thoughts that provide security or comfort even while they stop us travelling forward. And this is where God’s belief in us comes in. Creation awaits us, renewal awaits us, if we would only notice the face of God patiently waiting for us to begin.