Rosh HaShanah: Sleep cycles

Wake up you sleepy ones from your sleep and you who slumber, arise. (Rambam: Hilchot Teshuvah Ch.3 Law 4)

Sleeping in the darkness
we wander far away.
The shofar calls us back,
revives our dormant senses.
We waken, turning back to God.

Conscious of His voice
we listen to His call
and God returns rejoicing,
but we stray imperceptibly,
lured back to slumber.

Sleeping in the darkness
we wander far away.
The shofar calls us back,
revives our dormant senses.
We waken, turning back to God.

Conscious of His voice
we listen to His call
and God returns rejoicing,
but we stray imperceptibly,
lured back to slumber.

Maybe this time
we might sleep
a little lighter.


Sleep has been defined as “a naturally recurring state characterized by reduced or absent consciousness.”

In Hilchot Teshuvah, Perek 3, Halacha 4, the Rambam says, “Even though the sounding of the shofar on Rosh HaShanah is a decree, it contains an allusion. It is as if [the shofar’s call] is saying: “Wake up you sleepy ones from your sleep and you who slumber, arise. Inspect your deeds, repent, remember your Creator. Those who forget the truth in the vanities of time and throughout the entire year, devote their energies to vanity and emptiness which will not benefit or save: Look to your souls. Improve your ways and your deeds and let every one of you abandon his evil path and thoughts.” ”
In his book This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared, Rabbi Alan Lew says, “For ten days, the gates are open and the world is fluid. We are finally awake, if only in fits and starts, if only to toss and turn. For ten days, transformation is within our grasp. For ten days, we can imagine ourselves not as fixed and immutable beings, but rather as a limitless field upon which qualities and impulses rise up with particular intensity…
Transformation does not have a beginning, a middle, or an end. We never reach the end of Teshuvah. It is always going on. We are awake for a moment, and then we are asleep again. Teshuvah seems to proceed in a circular motion. Every step away is also a step toward home.”

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