This piece is part of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Notes series.
Picking up where chapter 6 left off, in chapter 7, we mostly look at when specific blessings should be uttered and by whom. Some examples include not uttering blessings that don’t make sense to utter (saying the blessing for the sunrise while it’s still dark), but also some unlikely blessings that, in a round-about-way, make sense — such as a blind person saying the blessing on sight, because people who can see assist the blind.
In Chapter 8, we learn that prayer comes before any personal luxuries in the morning. Before the consumption of sweetened coffee or tea, food, or non-health related personal matters, one’s attention should be on giving thanks. You’re not even supposed to greet people before you have prayed and given thanks because that is essentially maligning your priorities.
I used to practice this idea of rolling out of bed and praying. However, for a time, I realized that, fresh out of bed without coffee, I was mentally useless. Because unsweetened coffee is allowed before prayer (how I take it), I would let myself to have coffee before I would pray.
- Because coffee takes about 30 minutes to actually kick in, I would allow myself to read a bit before I would pray.
- Because I’m at my best once I’ve exercised, I’d allow myself to jump rope before I’d have my coffee.
- Because I was pretty gross after I had jumped rope, I’d allow myself to shower afterward.
- Because I had showered, I’d allow myself to get dressed before I’d get my coffee…before I’d read…and before I’d pray.
After a while, prayer started to get pushed back to being one of the last things I would do before leaving the house, making it a hurried endeavor — not the way prayer should be.
Many people of a spiritual persuasion who strive to develop morning routines allot some of that time to morning prayer. Still, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch tells us where prayer falls on your morning agenda is also important. Not only are you more likely to do it, but by making it a top priority, you realign your priorities in accordance with this truth — that giving thanks and asking for help takes precedence over everything else in your day.
If you absolutely need coffee or tea in the morning in order to get to a place where you can offer thanks, don’t escape the peaceful solitude of your own mind. Don’t open a book. Don’t fire up a podcast. Whatever you do, don’t turn on your TV, computer, or phone. Sit. Enjoy your beverage. Let your mind slowly boot up. Look at your own thoughts. Once your mental processor is online, start your consciousness by offering thanks.
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