WUPJ Kab. Shab. review, part V (Modim and lessons learned)

Parts I, II, III, and IV.

Today I’ll cover this service’s truncated and strange treatment of Modim.

Normally, Modim goes like this:

Modim anachnu lach, she’Atah hu Adonia Eloheinu vElohei avoteinu (in standard Progressive these days: v’imoteinu) l’olam va’ed.

Tzur chayeinu, magein yisheinu, Atah hu l’dor vador. Nodeh l’cha unsaper t’hilatecha, al chayeinu hamsurim d’yadecha, v’al nishmoteinu hap’kudot lach, v’al nisecha sheb’chol yom imanu v’al niflotecha v’tovotecha sheb’chol et, erev, vavoker, v’tzoharayim. Hatov, ki lo chalu rachamecha, v’hamrachem, ki lo tamu chasdecha, me’olam kivinu lach. V’al kulam yit’barach v’yitromam shimcha malkenu tamid l’olam va’ed. V’chol hachayim yoducha, selah, viyhal’lu et shimcha be’emet, ha’El y’shu’atenu v’ezratenu. Selah.

Baruch Atah, Adonai, hatov Shimcha, ul’cha na’eh l’hodot.


We thank you, for you are our God, God of our mothers and fathers, forever.

You are the rock of our lives, the shield of our salvation, from generation to generation. We thank you and tell of your praises, regarding our lives, delivered into your hand; regarding our souls, entrusted to you; regarding your miracles, performed daily; and regarding your wonders and favors, with us every moment, evening, morning, and noon. You are good, never-ending in mercy. You are merciful and your kindnesses never cease. Our hope is always with you. Regarding all of this, we bless and exalt your name always and forever. All living things will thank you, and they will praise your name in truth, God of our deliverance and our help.

Blessed are you, Adonai. Your name is good and to you we give our thanks.

Normally, when we see a Progressive service include a prayer, but reword, there is some objectionable material in the original. Unless we throw out the entire premise of prayer, I’m not sure we can find anything objectionable in the prayer. Yet, the WUPJ Kabalat Shabat service I’m writing about today massively truncates the prayer and inserts a new sentence of little consequence.

Throwing out all of what I’ve chunked out as the middle paragraph above, this service gives us one sentence in its stead:

Nodeh l’cha al kol hatovot v’hachesed v’rachamim shegamaltanu v’she’asita imanu v’im doroteinu sh’milfaneinu.

Meaning, I think:

We thank you regarding all the favors and the kindness and the mercy that you benefit us with and that you do for us and for our generations.

Okay. So effectively, all that the editors have done with this prayer is massively condense it and introduce some tongue-twister words sure to trip up anyone whose Hebrew reading skills are less than excellent.

So. Concluding thoughts on this whole service. From what I can tell, this service was used only once, as part of a large WUPJ convention. It was designed to showcase the poetry and the litrugical innovations of worldwide Progressive/Liberal/Reform/Reconstructionist Jewry. And as showcase of that, the service does a fine job. I am simply let wondering what many of the “innovators” whose work was borrowed for this service were thinking.

[EDIT: The comments to this post are required reading. Some very enlightening stuff there.]

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3 Responses to WUPJ Kab. Shab. review, part V (Modim and lessons learned)

  1. Elf's DH August 11, 2008 at 10:20 pm #

    I read the “new” version and thought… “where have I read that before?”

    Here’s the Palestinian version of Modim from a geniza document (Elbogen 1993 JPS p396):
    מודים אנחנו לך אתה הוא ה’ אלהינו ואלהי אבותינו
    על כל הטובות החסד והרחמים שגמלתנו
    ושעשית עמנו ועם אבותינו מלפנים

    ואם אמרנו מטה רגלנו חסדך ה’ יסעדנו
    בא”ה הטוב שמך ולך נאה להודות

    I’m impressed in their lack of innovation!

  2. Elf's DH August 11, 2008 at 10:44 pm #

    correction, the ending is:
    בא”ה הטוב לך להודות

  3. David A.M. Wilensky August 11, 2008 at 11:37 pm #

    Very cool find, indeed, DH! Thanks for pointing that out!

    I do often wonder about the Progressive world’s increasing tendency to like to use these old versions of prayers that have fallen into disuse. As far as I can tell, all it ever serves to do is confuse people like us that notice these things.