“In Nehardea they said the following [as well] in the name of R. Simai: ‘Berachot ve’hodaot l’shimcha ha’gadol al shehecheyitanu ve’kiyamtanu al she’anu modem lach – Blessings and thanksgiving to Your great Name because You have kept us alive and preserved us since we give thanks.’ R. Acha b. R.Yaakov would conclude in this manner: ‘Kein te’chayenu u’techannenu u’tekabtzeinu v’te’esof galuyoteinu l’chatzrot kod’shecha, lishmor chukecha ve’la’asot r’tzonecha b’levav shalem al she’anu modem lach – So may You continue to keep us alive, show us your grace, gather us together and gather our exiles to Your holy courts so that we [may] observe Your statutes and do Your will with a full heart since we give thanks.’ R. Papa proclaimed, ‘Therefore let us recite them all.’ ”
Indeed, the present-day formulation combines the contributions of all these sages. Hence its name: Modim D’Rabbanan – the Modim of the rabbis. Actually, our text includes even more praises, which Tosafot (s.v. “al she’anachnu Modim lach”) note were contributed by sages cited in the Jerusalem Talmud (Berachot 1:5).
Shulchan Aruch Harav (Orach Chayim 127:sk1) notes that when the chazzan reaches his own Modim and the congregation’s members join by saying Modim D’Rabbanan, they should bow along with the chazzan. He also notes that some halachic authorities (Rosh, cited by the Tur, Orach Chayim, ad loc.) maintain that we should conclude with “Shem Hashem”: “Baruch Ata Hashem E-l ha’hodaot – Blessed are You Hashem, G-d worthy of praises.” Other authorities, however (for example, Rambam, Hilchot Tefillah 9:14), rule that we should not invoke the Shem Hashem. Rather, we should conclude with “Baruch E-l ha’hoda’ot – Blessed are You the G-d worthy of praises.” This is the nearly universal text with which we conclude today.
Additionally, Shulchan Aruch Harav notes an opinion (of Ra’abad, cited by Rashba, novella to Berachot 34b) that one should bow at the conclusion of Modim D’Rabbanan at the words “al she’anu modem lach… – since we give thanks…” He says it is proper to heed his words. Indeed, I remember very well from my own days in the Mirrer Yeshiva that the mashgiach ruchani, Harav Hirsh Feldman, zt”l, used to bow down in this manner at the conclusion of Modim D’Rabbanan.
The Mechaber (ad loc. 127:1) cautions that one should be careful not to bow at Modim D’Rabbanan as deeply as the chazzan. In other words, a person should slightly bow his head rather than bow with his entire torso. The Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. sk2) duly notes this restriction but dismisses it, as most people today are not accustomed to just slightly bow.
(To be continued)
Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.