Tefillas HaShachar: Uninternalized commitment
Rabbi Yehoishophot Oliver
We begin Tefillah with the declaration, “Hodu—acknowledge Hashem.” This is the purpose of the first section of Tefillah: A general, all-encompassing submission (hoda’ah) to Hashem that is yet to be fully understood and integrated within one’s personality.
However, this hoda’ah is different from that of Modeh Ani. Since Modeh Ani is recited when one first wakes up in the morning, the person has not engaged in any reflection at all. He is akin to one who simply recognizes that something exists, despite his total lack of comprehension of it. He sees that Hashem has restored his Neshamah to him, so he offers thanks to Him on the most basic level, despite his total lack of understanding.
In contrast, Tefillas HaShachar is akin to a person who acknowledges something that he has begun to understand, albeit only on a very superficial level. The reason that this section involves some level of understanding is that it follows the Morning Blessings, in which the person reflects upon Hashem’s kindnesses on a basic level.
Here one connects one’s Neshamah with the spiritual energy of the world of Asiyah, the world of action.
This reveals the lowest level of the Neshamah, that of Nefesh, which drives the Jew to bring his thought, speech, and action to conform to the will of Hashem. This is the most basic level of divine service. This represents the concept that divine service begins with obedience, with declaring “we will do” before “we will hear [understand].”
At this point one lacks inspiration and enthusiasm, for by definition, a beginner has not yet invested the necessary effort to reach such a feeling, for that is a more advanced stage—the next level of Tefillah, Pesukei DeZimrah.
 Sefer HaMa’amarim 5691, p. 207.
 This was the declaration with which the Jewish people committed themselves to follow the Torah. See Shemos 24:7; Shabbos 88a.
Dedicated in the merit of a speedy release for the captives Yonasan ben Malka (Jonathan Pollard), Sholom Mordechai Halevi ben Rivka (Sholom Rubashkin), and Zeva Rochel bas Chaya (Wendy Weiner Runge).
Dedicated by Doctor Binyomin Rothstein and family, as a merit for their aliyah to our Holy Land to be crowned with material and spiritual success and prosperity.
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