Counting the Omer with Judy Greenberg
Day 15 — Limiting Sleep
Miyut Shaynah • מיעוט שינהה
By Rabbi Justin Pines, New York, N.Y.
When we think of limiting our pleasures, we generally think of food, sex, entertainment, or even drugs and alcohol. Yet curiously, in Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe’s exploration of the middah of ta’ava (excessive desire), the first area he addresses is sleep (Alei Shur, Volume II, p. 244).
If limiting pleasure is all about striking a balance, then sleep is the ideal case study. As Rav Wolbe points out, one who sleeps too much is giving in to his/her desire for more sleep, yet one who sleeps too little is also giving in — to his/her desire to be awake longer.
For some of us, we may stay in bed in the morning instead of going to pray, study, exercise or whatever else we could be doing to start our day out on the right track. For others, we may give in to the desire to watch one more show or answer one more email before bed. And for some (myself included), we may find ourselves giving in to both the desire to sleep more and the desire to be awake longer at different times.
Rav Wolbe is teaching us that our sleep practice is very much part of our Mussar practice, and is a great place to develop the practice of limiting and balancing pleasure. Our first step is to set a goal, and then to develop techniques to help us achieve that goal in small steps, and finally to keep track of our progress as a learning opportunity and without self-judgment.
Wishing you a balanced amount of sweet dreams …
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