רַבִּי חֲנִינָא בֶן חֲכִינַאי אוֹמֵר, הַנֵּעוֹר בַּלַּיְלָה וְהַמְהַלֵּךְ בַּדֶּרֶךְ יְחִידִי וְהַמְפַנֶּה לִבּוֹ לְבַטָּלָה, הֲרֵי זֶה מִתְחַיֵּב בְּנַפְשׁוֹ
Rabbi Hananiah ben Hakinai said: one who wakes up at night, or walks on the way alone and turns his heart to idle matters, behold, this man is mortally guilty.
I have a love-hate connection with the darkness and solitude of the night. I despise walking in the dark. It is sometimes an unavoidable inconvenience in the winter because it gets dark early in the Netherlands. But not alone, and if there is no other option, prefer biking over walking – it’s faster. The darkness has an ominous quality to it, and I hear sounds I can’t place.
Good advice from Bartenura is to remember words of Torah and trust G-d even at these moments, at these very moments.
“this one is liable for [forfeiture of] his life”: As night is the time of demons, and one who wanders on a road alone is in danger because of the brigands and several [other] bad occurrences; and if he had been thinking about words of Torah, it would have guarded him.
On the other side, I enjoy the night since it is the finest time for me to communicate with G-d. Even as a child, I would sneak out of the house at night to sit in our garden and pray to G-d.
I don’t do as well in the late evenings these days. I’m tired from the day, and the sounds of people surrounding me make it difficult for me to concentrate. However, the “world” is mine early in the morning.
I usually get up early – some say 4 a.m. is too early – and, to be honest, I sometimes have to force myself to get up. But the benefits of sitting alone in my study, with a view of the stars (I have a skylight), the calm of the world, and the stillness of the house, are extremely beneficial for learning, praying, and thinking about a piece of text. For me, it is the ideal way to begin the day, since how could I live a whole day – in the best way possible – unless I first commit to The Life?
How good are the words of Rabbi Chananya ben Chakhinai, who says, etc. such a one is liable for [forfeiture of] his life: Since they are desirable times, he should only think during them about things that are desirable before the Omnipresent, may He be blessed. And those [things] are words of Torah. As how grand and desirable are these times for thinking about Torah, since he has no work to do and does not hear the voices of [other] people.
Commit yourself to Life, if only by saying “thank you” for life in the morning.
By Angelique Sijbolts
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