Rabbi Jonathan Gewirtz – Snooze, Don’t Lose


Operation Inspiration

If you use an alarm clock to wake you up in the morning, or even in the afternoon, you’re probably familiar with a feature called, “snooze.” First introduced in 1956 by General Electric-Telechron, this button silenced the alarm for a bit over 9 minutes. That was not necessarily the “optimal” amount of time to rest, but was rather due to the configuration of the gears and easier programming of a single-digit function over a double-digit one. Nevertheless, it’s become rather standard.

The idea is that when you have to get up but are tired, you can grab a few extra minutes before you get out of bed. Many of us will set our alarms earlier than we actually need, so we can enjoy the almost sinful feeling of snoozing once or twice before dragging ourselves out of bed. Ironically, scientists say those few minutes can make you even more tired and leave you fatigued for the rest of the day. And, I’m sure many can attest that because they use the ubiquitous snooze feature, they’ve managed to oversleep and been late for whatever it was they had set their alarm for.

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However, one morning, as I struck my snooze button, it struck me right back. Well, metaphorically, at least. I realized that as my time in bed dwindled, I didn’t want to get up any sooner than I absolutely had to. Hitting the snooze button was my way of taking control of my life, and gathering a few more precious moments of rest. Even if they weren’t the deepest of sleeps, they had benefit and were pleasurable.

Life on earth can be compared to sleeping. We have dreams and we are preparing for a fresh, new tomorrow. Just as our sleeping should be done with the intention of awakening refreshed and ready to take on the new day, our lives should be used to build up the spiritual energy for the long day ahead, the afterlife which is eternal.

If that’s so, we ought not to give in to having to get “out of bed,” meaning the cessation of our growth and accomplishment. Instead, just like the snooze button, we should take every moment we have to grab another mitzva, another kindness, another moment of Torah.

Yes, we may be getting older, and we may not have the sharpness or vitality of our youth. But that doesn’t mean we ought to resign ourselves to the fact that we can’t do things as we did before, and just get ready to move on. We don’t just “retire” and spend our times playing golf or sitting in a rocking chair. Not at all! Instead, we fight back against the lethargy with a smack of the snooze button, delaying our departure even just a bit.

Now, having made this brilliant connection and given you this lofty perspective, I realize that I’m barely past the halfway mark of my typical word count. What shall I talk about? Well, how about another sleep-related analogy?

Have you ever been laying in bed, very tired, yet unable to sleep? Certainly, when you get to a certain age, you are likely to have experienced this. Well, what will you do with those minutes and hours? You could try reading a book, many people play games on their phones, and there are so many other possibilities if you have a phone with internet. You can be scrolling through all the news of the day, and garnering the opinions of whoever felt strongly enough to share their thoughts, regardless of how inaccurate their analysis of the world may be. You can be watching silly videos that make you laugh. But if you think about my previous message, you might want to change that.

Could you be learning Torah at that time? Assuming everyone is properly covered, why not? To be honest, the Yetzer Hara will probably help you fall asleep faster, simply so you don’t keep learning.

I’m not saying you have to be like the Chazon Ish, who was known to learn by his table until he felt he had just enough energy to make it to his bed, and would be asleep before his head hit the pillow, but you can do good things in your waking moments.

Want to know something? I even wrote the beginning of this column while I was trying to sleep. I started typing and got pretty far before I needed to shut my eyes and drift off. I guess the message here is to seize not only the day, but the night, the morning, and the moments in between, and do something positive. This is the stuff dreams are made of.


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