Tuesday, April 23, 2013

48 Ways: #19 - Minimizing sleep


Pirkei Avot 6:5 teaches that Torah is acquired in 48 ways, which it lists for us. The nineteenth of the 48 is miut sheinah, reducing sleep.

The Rambam explicitly counsels us to pursue eight hours of sleep per night (Hilchot Deiot 4:4), so perhaps one might say that today we are all in fulfillment of this mishnah, since it's rare for us to sleep eight hours in any given night!

To me, though, the mishnah here is not talking about quantity. As Rabbeinu Bechayye explains, this mishnah is saying that one should not be אדוק בשינה, pursuing sleep as a goal and priority. It's about our attitude - is sleep a goal, or is it a means toward accumulating the energy needed to achieve a positive end? One who pursues sleep as a goal will have difficulty achieving greatness in his studies.

Have a great day,