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Jul 30, 2008

12 seconds

I just received this story by email...

In a United States convention of neurologists from all over the world, one of the main topics was the phenomenon of people fainting upon getting up from bed.

One of the speakers was Professor Linda McMaron of Great Britain and she gave a lengthy speech regarding her study on this issue. She elaborated that after many years of study and investigation on this subject, she came to the conclusion that the fainting is caused by the sharp transfer between laying down and standing up. Professor McMaron said that it takes 12 second for the blood to flow from the feet to the brain. But when a person quickly stands up upon waking up, the blood gets 'thrown' to the brain too quickly and the result is fainting. She suggested that each person, even one that does not have a tendency to faint, upon waking up should sit on the bed, and count slowly till 12 to avoid dizziness, weakness, and/or fainting.

Her speech was rewarded with loud applause and enthusiastic feedbacks.

Another Professor, a Jewish religious man, asked permission to speak.

He said: "By us, the Jews, there is an old tradition, thousands of years old, to say a prayer of thanks to the Creator of the World for meriting us to wake up healthy and whole. The prayer is said immediately upon waking up, while one is still on the bed and sitting down. There are 12 words in this prayer and if one regulates himself to say it slowly with concentration, it takes exactly 12 seconds to says it... 12 words in 12 seconds.

He said the prayer slowly in Hebrew:
Mode Ani Lefanecha Melech Chai VeKayam, Shehechezarta Bi Nishmati Bechemla Raba Emunatecha
"I thank Thee, O living and eternal King, because Thou hast graciously restored my soul to me; great is Thy faithfulness."

The auditorium burst into a standing applause that roared throughout the auditorium. This time, it was for the Creator of the World.


  1. I also received this (in Hebrew), and it's utterly ridiculous.

    First of all, Google "Linda McMaron". I only found her in connection to this story. If she is as qualified as the story suggests, the first few hits should be connected to her research and/or publications, not to this story.

    Secondly, it takes less than 12 seconds to say modeh ani. Perhaps some people say it slowly, but my guess is that the majority does not, and I doubt it was ever intended to be said at one second per word. If it was, there would be some indication of it, and there is not (at least not that I have seen).

    Thirdly, a second is fairly recent convention, and is only one of several ways of dividing an hour, in particular one which halacha has never used. Rather, an hour in halacha is divided into chalakim, which is 3-1/3 seconds. Therefore, according to the logic of the story, one should say each word over the course of one chelek, and wait 40 seconds before standing up.

    Fourthly, the Jewish professor could have just as easily have cited the gemara in gittin, which is brought down in the Mishnah Brurah, se'if 1, se'if katan 8, that one should wait a little before standing up to prevent damage to the body.

    Fifthly, and most glaring, a roomful of people who have dedicated their lives to science would not give a standing ovation to anything connected to religion (I'm not saying there are no religious people in science, I'm saying that's an extremely unusual reaction to a religious sentiment expressed in such a forum).

  2. One more thing: if one were to get up too quickly, blood would, if anything, be thrown away from the brain, not toward it.

    (Unless, of course, she was studying my six-year-old daughter, who does cartwheels and handstands pretty ,uch non-stop, and thus probably stands up in an upside-down position in the morning.)

  3. so what's your point yoni:-)
    Joel rich

  4. Joel,

    The point is that it's likely not a true story, and even if it is, the Jewish professor was making a silly point connecting 12 seconds to the 12 words in Modeh Ani.

    (I'll be by the heilegeh shver in a few weeks. We can discuss further during "shaloshuedes" over flat diet soda and stale chips.)

  5. Modeh Ani is not thousands of years old. It was first recorded in the sefer "Seder Hayom" from the time of the Rishonim. The point being that upon waking is the appropriate time to say the b'racha "E-lohai, Neshama...", but in order to avoid saying a divine name with unclean hands the b'racha was delayed until after hand washing, and "Modeh Ani", a prayer without any divine names was invented to be said immediately upon waking.

  6. i think the point really was that in the morning praising of G-d we have a built-in way to slow down getting up and thereby avoid fainting. The religious professor was probably just making that point, but tying in the coinsidence of the number 12. that is how i understood it.

  7. As for Yoni's last point, physiologically I believe he's correct. When we have patients who have syncopal episodes upon rising, we check for postural hypotension. Simply, it means we check their blood pressure lying in bed, right after sitting up, and right after standing up. The changes in position/posture require for all of us that the body compensate for the effect of gravity initially pulling the blood down towards the feet. Those of us who compensate too slowly or insufficiently experience a bit of dizziness, etc. due to momentary decrease of blood flow to the brain. For some this is severe enough that they pass out.

    This can also happen, btw, after severe dehydration or blood loss. The compensatory mechanisms may be intact, but there may not be enough volume for them to work well. Same effect.

  8. Yoni
    These days the "heilegeh shver's" table for "shaloshuedes" actually has "fresh" diet Coke (however, can't vouch for the chips)
    Look forward to seeing and hearing from you then

  9. Still, I never understood why they serve diet soda for "shaloshuedes", when men, who make up most of the people there, generally prefer regular soda.

    Save me a seat.


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