Sleep and the Torah

Today’s blog article by Jerry Fleischer, JFCS Oral Historian

Have you ever in your “wildest dreams” wondered what the Torah, (written and oral), has to say about that precious commodity known as “sleep”? Perhaps an insightful illustration pertaining to sleep in the Torah may be found in the colorful celebration of the Jewish Festival of Shavuot recently celebrated in the month of Sivan. The saintly Moses descended Mount Sinai with “The Ten Commandments” and the Holy Torah which contained 613 commandments. Moses finished his descent from the top to the foot of Mount Sinai at the break of dawn when Israelites were to receive the holy words of G-d. Unfortunately, the children of Israel were caught red-handed napping.

Despite knowing that their great teacher, Moses, was scheduled to return from his heavenly encounter with G-d at the early morning sunrise, the Jewish people thus overslept. At the foot of the holy mountain they had prepared themselves spiritually for this encounter. In order to “rectify” this short-coming of the Hebrews many Jews stay up all night on the first night of Shavuot and study from the written and oral Law, “Torah and Talmud”.

The Jewish concept of sleep is based on the dogma that an individual is made of body and soul; in other words the physical and the spiritual. While sleeping the soul leaves the body and returns to G-d. Upon waking from sleep the soul returns to the body.

Our sages tell us from the moment when we come out of slumber and awaken for the day, we are in a constant state of alertness. In other words, the Torah teaches us that the “early bird catches the worm”.

Louisville seniors have so much to share and are encouraged to participate in the JFCS Oral History Project, whereby one is interviewed by another volunteer to obtain one’s life history. A typed copy of this history is provided to the interviewee and a copy is archived with JFCS. To find out how to get started as either interviewer or interviewee, call Kim Toebbe, Volunteer Coordinator, (502) 452-6341 ext. 103.

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