Waking Up Like a Lion, Even a Sleepy Lion | Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Notes

Reading Time: 3 minutes

(A brief explanation of this series: I was gifted the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, which is a summary text of Jewish tradition and law for daily living. I’ve dedicated to studying this work, from front-to-back, on a near-daily basis. This learning is in the merit of the gifters, Larry & Pam Rogers. May their health be restored and may they be always blessed always. These blog posts will be somewhat of a summary of whatever I study that day and my own takeaways on their application for Jews and non-Jews alike. These will be quickly written and probably not be carefully edited, so expect some mistakes. My opinions are my own, so read at your own risk, but I hope it helps you lead a more intentional life. Thanks. – Ken)

Wake Up, You Sleepy Head

Siman 1, Part 1

Within this first Siman of Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, we’re instructed to not sleep in — that we should rise like a lion and shed the excuses. Some of the normal excuses are shared, such as not wanting to get out of a warm bed when it’s so cold or that you should sleep in if you felt like we didn’t get enough rest.

Well, firstly, in addition to the Shulchan Aruch’s claim that it’s the yetzer hara (evil inclination in us all) who wants us to remain in bed and not be productive, we also know that our lazy impulse uses our own sleep cycles against us. We have a series of sleep cycles throughout the night — deep sleep, then it lightens up for a while, then deep, then light — almost hourly. You can attest to this on two parts; maybe you’ve woken up after just two hours of sleep and felt pretty refreshed, even if you do feel that lack of sleep later in the day. On the other hand, maybe you slept a full eight and-a-half to nine hours and still felt half stuck in a dream-induced fog. Did you sleep too much? Possibly, but a more accurate reason is that you were awakened (usually by a sound, such as an alarm clock — or in my case, by a baby) in the middle of one of these cycles. To combat this, there are some helpful tools, such as Sleepyt.me or the Sleep Time app for a mobile device. You can use these to figure out when to fall asleep in order to wake up at the lightest point of a sleep cycle — when you’re most alert. 

The Shulchan Aruch continues to prove that you’re physically able to get up anytime and not be hostage to your own sleepiness.

You should realize that if you were called by any individual to participate in a business transaction in which there is profit, or to collect a debt, or if someone called with a plan to save your wealth from disaster, for example, if a fire occurred in the city or something similar occurred, you certainly would be quick to awaken immediately because of your concern for your wealth and you would not act sluggishly.”

In other words, you know you can move when you need to. So, why not just force through your sleepiness move every morning?

The Shulchan Aruch then ends this section on getting up to say that it’s really not that hard after a while.

Once you accustom yourself to this practice four or five times you will no longer find it difficult, [as our Sages have said:] ‘He who makes an effort to purify himself is [Divinely] assisted in his efforts.’

Oddly enough, my own morning routine has been being chipped away by the cunning “just five more minutes” excuse. While those extra minutes can seem so nice, it’s important to keep in mind that this shaves time off of a more leisurely morning routine. I know that if my morning routine is shortened even just a bit, it can make me feel stressed to finish each task in haste in order to get to work on time. Being rushed in the morning can ruin my entire day.

Rising like a lion (even a lion that has been hit with a tranquilizer dart) ensures that your morning is not rushed and thus leading to a more stressful day. There are some parts of your morning routine that you can do half-conscious, so just do those until you’ve had a chance to wake up a bit more. It won’t take but a few moments to brush off the sleepiness. 

If you’re contemplating hitting the snooze button, remind yourself that it will only result in a more rushed morning and a more stressful day. 

Side suggestion: I wrote a piece on How to Design Your Best Morning

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