1:1 Psalm 16 says ”I set the Lord before me always” (verse 8), which is a crucial mindset for anyone who endeavors to live a Torah lifestyle. The way we carry ourselves in public is not the defining characteristic of a person; what shows who really are is the way we conduct ourselves when we’re alone (but, as always, in the presence of God). If we don’t act and speak among our closest friends and family the way we would in front of a king, then aren’t we forgetting something? Namely, there’s still a King in the room – The King of Kings, in fact! The Book of Jeremiah reminds us that God is everywhere and there’s no place we can go to hide from His view (23:24). If we remember that and take it seriously, we’ll never stray to inappropriate actions.
1:2 When we awaken, even before getting out of bed, we should be aware that we are in the presence of God. As soon as we regain consciousness in the morning, we should recite “Modeh Ani” to thank God for returning our souls, which have been renewed overnight, so that we may have the strength to serve Him for another day. This is our true purpose in life and God reinvigorates us nightly so that each day we are like a new creation, ready to serve Him. (Refer to Eicha 3:23, “’They are new every morning…”) Modeh Ani may be said even though we have not yet washed our hands because this prayer does not include God’s name in it. One should pause slightly between the words “chemla” (compassion) and “rabbah” (great). The proper reading is “You returned my soul to within me with compassion; great is Your faithfulness!” If we run “chemla” and “rabbah” together, we end up saying, “You returned my soul to within me with great compassion” and that’s not what it actually says!