So since the pandemic began, every morning I head down to my basement office (the one my wife calls my man-cave) to deliver shiur to my students on Zoom. When we first began doing so a couple of months ago, it was suggested that we use our phones for audio. This way, if the Internet connection in our homes is weak, we can continue saying shiur even if our video is frozen. That was sage advice, especially because I found myself often getting kicked off the Internet completely in the middle of shiur. When Chani called a technician to ask about what we could do to improve our Internet service, he explained that our current service was inadequate. With the added demand in our home, which had become the base for nine different classrooms in seven different schools, our Internet wasn’t strong enough. That, coupled with the fact that our modem was in the living room, and my office is a floor beneath it, made the connection even iffier. The technician compared it to a traffic jam. Everyone is trying to go the same way, but there is limited availability. Every device in our home was trying to grab the same limited connectivity.

The technician said that we needed a new system, which he would send out right away. I assumed that he was sending us a new modem.

Those words sounded vaguely familiar: “a new modem.” Where did I hear that before?

After some thought, I remembered: It was from a lecture I heard recently. The speaker was saying that the most important component of prayer is gratitude. We think the most important part of prayer is “please,” when we state our requests to Hashem. But really the most important and effective prayer is when we express our gratitude to Hashem.

Instead of telling Hashem how He needs to get things right, we would be better off noticing how much He does for us.

He added that we don’t spend enough time concentrating on the brachah of Modim, in which we express our gratitude to Hashem.

If one wants to make his recitation of Modim more personal and meaningful, he should stop before reciting that brachah and think about one or two unique things that he is particularly thankful to Hashem for at that moment. Just as no one likes eating soggy cereal from the day before, we shouldn’t be satisfied with a “soggy Modim.” Each day we should aim to recite a “new Modim” that fills us with a renewed sense of gratitude to Hashem.

That was it! That was what I was reminded of when I heard those words: the need to be continually grateful and to count our blessings continually – a new Modim!

The only problem is that when I told Chani about my clever comparison between a new modem and a new Modim, she replied that we didn’t get a new modem; we got a new router! (Don’t ask me to explain the difference between them.)

But “new router” doesn’t have any clever altering connotation. So now I have nothing to write about this week. Oh well; maybe next week.


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Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW, is a rebbe and guidance counselor at Heichal HaTorah in Teaneck, NJ, Principal at Mesivta Ohr Naftoli of New Windsor, and a division head at Camp Dora Golding. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Looking for periodic powerful inspiration? Join Rabbi Staum’s new Whatsapp group “Striving Higher.” Email for more info.