In today’s Hayom Yom, courtesy of Chabad.org, we read the following;
”The routine of the day begins with saying modeh ani. This is said before the morning laving of the hands, even while the hands are “impure.” The reason is that all the impurites in the world do not defile a Jew’s “I acknowledge.” He might lack one thing or another, but his modeh ani remains intact.”
This teaches us an important lesson about the nature of Hashem. Before washing the hands, we are essentially ‘impure’. Just as when we make bad decisions in our life- whether that’s an unkind action towards another, or the unfortunate decision to disregard Hashem’s mitzvos- we descend further into galus, or exile, a kind of impurity in itseld. But no matter how deep we descend; no matter how ‘bad’ a person you or I might become; Hashem is still with us. First thing in the morning, before our hands are ritually ‘pure’, Hashem is there, watching over us, and our neshomos acknowledge this with the recitation of the Modeh Ani. It doesn’t matter whether or not we are ‘clean’ or ‘pure’- He watches over us. And this should remind us that He will always love us, no matter how many mistakes we make.
It’s never too late to do teshuvah and repent. But in some cases, this doesn’t just mean davening for Hashem to forgive us. In some cases, it involves taking action, too. If we have hurt another- accidentally or intentionally- it’s not just Hashem we need to ask forgiveness from. Spiritual repentance is all well and good, but the key to living a harmonious life is to balance our thoughts and prayers with our day-to-day actions. And it’s in these times- when we’ve done something wrong, when we’ve hurt someone, when we feel ‘impure’- that we need to take action. In doing so, we don’t just help ourselves. We take part in the process of tikkun olam- mending the world.