The Gift of Sleep – A Blessing During Coronavirus & Always

The following is an excerpt from Rabbi Moshe Goldberger’s 100 Brachos: Counting Your Blessings 100 Times a Day. I hope that you will find it as inspiring and charming as I do on the subject of sleep. We so often take sleep for granted. Yet it is vital to our immune systems, daily functioning, and peace of mind. “Sleep on Shabbat is a pleasure,” the saying goes – but sleep is a pleasure every day – and a source, too, of comfort, healing, integration, and renewal. During this crisis, when, many people are having trouble relaxing their bodies and quieting their minds, this meditation on the gift of sleep can help all of us to rest – gratefully. As the Psalmist sang, “my soul rests in God… God is our refuge.” – Rabbi Debra Orenstein (RabbiDebra.com)

My husband and son (about 15 years ago now!)

“Blessed are You, Eternal Master, our God, Ruler of the universe, Who causes the fetters of sleep to fall on my eyes…”

“The blessing said before we go to sleep is a blessing for the gift of sleep.  If you have never thanked Hashem for the gift of sleep, you owe Hashem a tremendous debt of gratitude.  Sleep allows one to lay down one’s body and allow one’s mind to go into a slumber-mode, which is geshmack [pleasurable, sweet]. Nebach [poor soul!], when someone has insomnia. One who has suffered even once from this difficulty learns how invaluable a good night’s sleep is.

“The vast majority of people fall asleep easily.  What is more, most of us are privileged to sleep on soft, comfortable materials that Hashem has provided, such as the luxury to place our head on a soft pillow, our body on a comfortable bed and soft linens.

“The Torah tells us that Yaakov [Jacob] once went to sleep with only a rock for a pillow (Bereishis 28:18).  You, however, do not have a boulder for a pillow; you have a soft, perhaps feathery cushion with a soft pillow cover.  You place your tired head down upon it and think: ‘O, Hashem, thank You so much for the soft pillow!’ As you fall asleep you muse: ‘Ah, the Abishter [Supreme One] provides me with the best of everything.’

“One of the benefits of sleep is that it imposes a deadline on our daily activities…. We go to sleep with the intention of recharging our batteries so that we can serve Hashem [again] in the morning.

“The process of falling asleep is similar to a treatment of anesthesia, but we pay no anesthesiologist.  Sleep is transformative.  The Abishter re-energizes and rejuvenates us, so that when we awake, we are restored and refreshed, full of renewed strength and vigor.  This is a gevaldige [amazing, fantastic] gift. It is not owed to us. The Medrash (Eicha 3:23) illustrates this with an example of someone who stores a precious item for safekeeping and hopes to have it returned in one piece, but would not expect it to be improved.  If we owed the guardian of this precious object a lot of money, we would understand if they refused to return the item but insisted on holding it as collateral. [God guards us, body and soul, while we sleep and awakens us back to life in the morning – better than we were before we rested.]

“Pirkei D’Rebbe Eliezer lists some of the benefits of sleep:  It is like food (sustaining us) it is like medicine (healing us), it provides life and it provides us with peace of mind.”

About the Author
Debra Orenstein, rabbi of Congregation B'nai Israel in Emerson, NJ, is an acclaimed scholar-in-residence. She is editor of Lifecycles 1:Jewish Women on Life Passages and Personal Milestones and Lifecycles 2: Jewish Women on Biblical Themes in Contemporary Life (Jewish Lights). A seventh generation rabbi, she was in the first rabbinical class at The Jewish Theological Seminary to include women.
Related Topics
Related Posts
Comments