Balak: The Best Part of Waking Up

Somebody pointed out to me that right after the attempt on Trump's life, he got up with his fist in the air, showing his defiance.  He said that it shows you a bit about his personality, that he's a fighter.  Something like that isn't something that is taught, it comes from within a person.  Love him or hate him, the person made a good point.

When my daughter and her friend were on their flight, there was some medical emergency onboard.  They did not know the details, but they knew it was serious.  What's the first thing they did?  They split the entire Tehillim into two, and both said Tehillim for the person.

I couldn't help but think.  If you looked at my daughter and her friend, you would see two religious girls, and that's about it.  They were off to go work at a camp because they wanted to spend the month having some fun and some adventure in a kosher way.  You wouldn't exactly peg them as "frummies."  Yet, when something important came up (even if it was not related to them), their inner-selves came out and they knew what they had to do.  Even if they don't have "frummy personalities, they still know what is truth and act accordingly.  And what's best is that one thing does not contradict the other, and it's something that comes from the inside, and not from some outside stimulus.

"Behold, the people rises up as a lioness; as a lion he lifts himself up. He shall not lie down until he eat of the prey and drinks the blood of the slain" (Bamidbar 23: 24).

Believe it or not, I often bless my children with the last part of the bracha when they leave in the morning for school, "May you drink the blood of your enemies."  It's possible that the source of this for me was that I was partially educated by Klingon doctrine, but we see clearly that it comes from the Torah itself.  Which of course leads to the age-old question: perhaps the Klingons themselves learned a little Torah?  I guess we'll leave that for next Purim.

Where was I?  Oh right … serious things.

On this pasuk, Rashi writes that this is about Jews who awaken early like a lion to "tear into" the mitzvos, by putting on their tallis and tefillin to say Shema.

Rav Shimshon Pincus elaborates on this idea.  We see a lot of importance being put on "firsts" in the Torah.  First-born people.  First-born animals.  First fruits. And as we see both with Avraham and Bilaam, doing things first thing in the morning.

It's the normal way of the world to get out of bed, get the coffee going, get dressed, get the coffee, catch up on the news, chat with the spouse, bless the children with strange Klingon blessings as they take off for school, and head off to work (or in the Jewish world, head off to shul to daven).

However, one of the best segulas (I can't remember a good English word for that, sorry) to have a day of holiness is to start it off holy.  Being, if a person wants to make his day spiritually-worthwhile, it's a bit hard to when he sleeps late or makes himself busy with other things before fulfilling his spiritual obligations.  When a person wakes early, skips the news (but not the coffee!  THAT is spiritual), gets himself ready and immediately goes to daven, he is already injecting holiness into his day.  If he's able to learn for a few minutes afterwards, even more holiness gets injected.  And just with that alone, a person already has a spiritual "base" for his day.

Yes, most of us, for all sorts of reasons, are unable to live a life where our entire day is spiritually based.  Life is not easy and it does a great job minimizing our ability to do so.  However, if we can do one thing, it's this.  The morning time is a time where we tend to have the most strength (after coffee, of course) and the least amount of distractions.

Since Covid, I would daven the earliest minyan possible on Shabbos, which now starts around 5 a.m., go home, sleep for 20 minutes, and learn until we eat.  I recently had to change my schedule around a bit, where instead I go to the latest minyan which is 8:30 (which is hard for my personality, but whatever).  However, I get up several hours early, have a coffee (duh!), say brachos and, weather-permitting, go outside to learn until davening.  Then, I wake up the kids, and we go to daven.  By the time we get home, I've already filled the first five hours of the day in "spiritual pursuits."  And it's all done while things are quiet and there are no distractions around.

It's a wonderful piece of advice that I try to use every day, and I believe many would gain from following it.  You don't need to lose sleep, you simply need to be careful on how you use the first few hours of your day.

With that, I hope you all have a wonderful and quiet Shabbos.