Halacha Blog

Yalkut Yosef: Kitsur Shulchan Aruch Laws of Conduct in the Morning.  Siman (Chapter) 1

1. It was taught in Masechet Avot, Yehudah ben Teima said, “One should be bold as a tiger, light as an eagle, run like a deer, and strong as a lion to do the will of your Father in Heaven”. We learn from here four things regarding the service of Hashem. Be bold as a tiger, when one performs a mitzvah he should not be embarrassed from those who mock him. Light like as an eagle, to quickly close his eyes from seeing evil since that which the eyes see is the cause of sin. Run like a deer, that the legs should run to do good deeds. And strong like a lion, this is the strength of the heart to win over ones evil inclination. And therefore, one must strengthen himself like a lion when rising in the morning to serve Hashem to awaken the dawn . And in all circumstances on should  not  to be late for the time of prayer and the recital of Kriyat Shema. 

 2. One must have the constant nature and habit to run for a mitzvah. There are those who sleep in late, delay matters in their home, and only afterwards run to the Beit Knesset. However, this is not considered to be a hasty characteristic since even when they are found to be running,  this is only since they awoke late and therefore run just to make it for prayer in the Beit Kinesset. One  must always be quick in regards to prayer and Torah and not be drawn to sleep and physical  pleasures. One should not be tempted by his inclination to be negligent because of his wealth and possessions since all this eventually passes and is lost, but the Torah and its reward persists forever.

3. One must wake up early enough in the morning so that he will have enough time to prepare himself in order to pray with a congregation and with cleanliness so that he does not miss out the time in prayer. There is a custom in several congregations in Israel that the shamash walks in the morning and knocks on the doors or windows in order to wake up those who are sleeping for prayer and serving Hashem.

4. One should not reckon with sleep since all that is done in excess has no benefit to the body, and even modern medical doctors have agreed that one must sleep between six to eight hours nightly since more than this amount will damage the health of the individual. It was taught in the Gemarah, ‘The sleep of the righteous is bad for themselves and bad for the world’ for the Torah that they are involved with serves as a protection for the generation and when they are batel from it troubles come to the world. It was also taught  that regarding Torah scholars who toil in Torah in the nights, it is considered as if they are bringing a sacrifice. It was also taught in the Yerushalmi, ‘One who toils in his studies privately at night will not quickly forget what he learnt’. Similarly, the Rambam wrote, ‘Even though the mitzvah to learn Torah applies both in the day and night, one learns most of his wisdom only in the night time. Therefore, one who wants to merit the Crown of Torah should be careful with his nights so as not to lose even one through sleep, eating , or chatter, but only used for Torah and wise matters.

5. It is proper for one to avoid sleeping during the day due to Bitul Torah. However, if by sleeping a little bit in the day one will be able to learn Torah in the night time till later hours or one will be able to learn Torah with more concentration and depth, he is permitted to sleep in the day. However, one should not sleep much. (Indeed according to the Kabbalah, one should refrain from sleeping in the day altogether.) It is also permitted to sleep on Shabbat day.

6. There are those who say it is proper for one to sleep during the first half of the night so as to learn Torah in the second half. This is an advantage to the individual regarding the health of their body and the spiritual rectification of the soul. However it was taught in the Talmud (Berachot 62) and the words of the Rambam explain that sleep at the end of the night at the time of dawn is beneficial to the health of the body and therefore if one wants to learn Torah in the beginning of the night and sleep during the second half of the night, he is able to do this. If it is possible, it is good to learn Torah close to the time of sunset until after nightfall and in the morning close to the time of dawn until after dawn so that he can connect the day to night with Torah learning to fulfill the verse, “And you shall meditate upon it night and day”. In any manner, many do not hold this custom and do not connect both night and day in the manner prescribed above since they rely on our Gemara which argues on this point with the Yerushalmi. As long as one toils in Torah both in the day and night. 

7. One who learns Torah at night until late hours, and due to this they are in doubt whether they will be able to get up to pray prior to the passing of the time for Kriyat Shema and prayer (Shemona Esrei), one is to stop with his studies and set up a time for study in a manner that he will not be late for Kriyat Shema and Prayer. However if one wants to delay his sleep and toil in Torah studies and it follows due to this that he will miss the prayer at the time of sunrise, one is allowed to do this since this causes him to be strengthened and persistent with Torah study so as long that one is not late for the time of Kriyat Shema and prayer. If due to his studying at late hours he needs to awake late in a manner that he misses the time for Kriyat Shema according to the time of Magen Avraham and rely on the time of Kriyat Shema according to the Vilna Gaon, one who is lenient has what to rely on. A there is no concern for Hillul Hashem in this regard)Surely, one who is not preoccupied with Torah learningshould make their best effort to fulfill the mitzvah in the  most preferable fashion to pray with the rising of the sun every day since this is of great importance.

8. When one awakes in the morning he should wait a little, and rise in haste to serve Hashem since this is the reason that man was created. However one should not rise suddenly after sleeping since this is damaging to the health. And even if one rises to serve Hashem and pray, or leave to perform a mitzvah, one should still pause a little while and then afterwards rise. Surely, the danger is specifically when standing on one’s feet. However, if one arises on their bed to dress up or similar activities and does not stand on their feet but stays sitting on their bed, there is no danger to this. And in all manners, one must not lay on their bed and turn his heart to idleness as Shlomo Hamelech warned us, ‘Until when do the lazy lay, when do they arise from their sleep’. The great kabbalists were cautious from speaking mundane matters prior to starting their praises to Hashem.

9. As soon as a person awakes from sleep, one should testify to himself his faith to Hashem and say “מודה אני לפניך…”. One should pause between the words בחמלה and רבא אמונתיך. Although one has yet to wash his hands and has the bad spirit on his hands one may still recite מודה אני. Also, even if there is filth in the  room and it is impossible to say words of Torah one may still recite מודה אני . Women recite מודָה אני with a kamatz. There are those who are careful to wash their hands as soon as they awake prior to dressing up. According to the basic law according to the Gemara and the Sages, one is permitted to dress up prior to washing their hands, take care of their bodily needs and only after wash their hands. One who is strict like the Zohar Hakadosh and washes their hands  immediately upon arising will be blessed.

10. The main portion of the day is its beginning and therefore it is proper to sanctify the beginning of one’s day by arising in the morning to serve Hashem. His first thought should also be the pondering of the greatness of Hashem and the kindness that was granted to him that his soul was returned to him. Similarly, his first walk should be for serving Hashem, the first words should be words of Torah and prayer, and the first action should be for the sake of Hashem so that all his thoughts and actions will follow the first.

11. It is good and correct for a minor who knows how to speak to be accustomed to say upon arising from their sleep, “מודה אני לפניך…” and to teach him to wash his hands.

12. That which Dovid Hamelech said, ‘I place Hashem before me always’ (Tehillim 16,8) is a great rule of the Torah and a virtue for the righteous. Therefore each and every person must contemplate in his heart that Hashem fills the entire land with his glory and stands over us and watches all of our actions as it is stated,” Is there a man who can hide in a hiding place and I will not see, the word of Hashem” the Word of Hashem”. Once this thought is pondered in one’s heart, fear and humility for Hashem will enter them, and will be embarrassed before Him continuously and their behavior will change for the good. ( If the fear does not enter immediately, one should ponder deeply in this concept until the fear of Hashem enters. One should also repent completely for all their sins for it is that which prevents the fear of Hashem from coming as it is written ‘Your sins are that which divides’.) Also when one is alone he is to know before whom he stands.

13. The correct Segula to strengthen a person to achieve the fear of Heaven is for him to be found often in the Beit Kinesset and in the Beit Midrash. One should also ask for peace, be careful to perform a positive commandment as soon as the opportunity arises, giving tithes, and studying Torah always. One must be humble and lowly, strengthen their home with the rulings of our sages, Halacha and Mussar, and think about the food that will be eaten on Shabbat that it will be for the honor of the Shabbat. One must lessen their speech and increase their silence and pray to Hashem that He will strengthen them with the fear of Heaven and purity.

14. It was already explained (Seif 1) that one who upholds the commandments of Hashem is Not to be embarrassed before those who mock him. However one should not fight nor oppose them so that he not become accustomed to the sad attribute of brazenness. [If one’s goal were to try to influence the congregation in matters of Torah and mitzvot, and they tried in a peaceful manner but were not successful, then one may be brazen and oppose them to break their  ideology.

15. One who lives in an area of non-Jews, if he were to walk in the streets on his way to the Beit Kinesset while crowned in his Tallit and Tefillin and thereby awaken anger to the non-Jews, it is proper that one refrain from doing this.

 16. In any case, one must be secretive and privatize their actions to the best of their ability. For the reward of one who serves Hashem in secret is granted by Hashem Himself whereas those who do so in public are rewarded by the angels.

17. One who does a mitzvah or an act of piety and wants to change his words for humility or so that he does not come to feel arrogant is permitted to do this so that he can fulfill “And you shall be private with your God”.

18. Prior to the Shacharit prayer, one must accept upon himself love for Hashem so as to fulfill “And you shall attach yourself to Him”. Our sages have expounded that we attach ourselves to Hashem, and since it is not possible for man to attach himself to God’s presence, this is a reference to the attachment to the mitzvot. Therefore one must sanctify his first thought to Hashem and then all his actions will be for the good.

19. It is accustomed to say every morning before prayer הרני מקבל לרעך כמוך עלי מצות עשה של ואהבת so that through this his prayer will be included with all the prayers of Israel and make the Heavens fruitful, even if he does not concentrate on his prayers to full extent. (When a person loves his fellow Jew he won’t come to steal from his money, nor benefit from his money or possessions, nor obtain his borders, nor cause him any monetary damage, and be meticulous in matters regarding man to his friend).   

 20. Few supplications with kavanah are greater than many without kavanah. (Therefore, one who has a compulsion in that they cannot lengthen their prayers, and through lessening the prayers one will be able to pray with kavanah, it is considered before Hashem like one who is in ease and prays longer prayers with kavanah). There are those who give many and those who give few, so as long that one directs his heart to Heaven. Indeed, for one who is capable of increasing the amount of Torah study and mitzvot, it is not relevant to say the aforementioned. And that which is found where Torah scholars sleep well at night, and eat much food and drink, all this is solely to strengthen themselves for learning Torah with depth and clear understanding. And for those who withhold sleep from their eyes causing their Torah learning to not be in depth, this is not the correct way.

21. It was a custom of the Arizal not to pray in a loud voice, even the songs, to teach the humbleness, fear, and awe one must have before Hashem. However, on Shabbat he would slightly raise his voice in pleasantness for the honor of the Shabbat. Accordingly, there are those who are accustomed to say the Zemirot and Kriyat Shema with its blessings with a loud voice and excitement so as to awaken their kavanah. It all depends on the person based on what is necessary to awaken his kavanah. Similarly in the manner of swaying while praying, there are those who through their swaying during prayer awaken their kavanah which is based on the verse, “All my limbs will praise Hashem”. There are also those who without swaying will able to pray well with kavanah and with them it is more preferable that they not sway.

 22.It is good to say every day the Parshat Ha’Akedah so as to remind the merits of our forefathers before Hashem and to subdue one’s inclination for the service of Hashem just as Yitzchak Avinu delivered his soul. It is correct to make an effort to read the opening prayers prior to prayer since the opening corresponds to the World of Action and if one were to read the opening after the prayer, he is found to have changed the order of the worlds.** However, it is not our custom to recite the Akedah during Mincha except on Yom Kippur. The most preferable way to the the mitzvah is to cover oneself with their Tallit and to don their Tefillin prior to reciting Parshat Ha’Akedah  However, if the time for placing one’s Tallit and Tefillin has not yet arrived, one is able to say the Parshat Ha’Akedah and the Kriyat Shema of the Korbanot without the Tefillin.

 ** Brief Explanation, different parts of prayer represents different spiritual worlds/realms and the order of prayer was designed for a person to have a spiritual ascent and descent through these worlds thus necessitating the prayers proper sequence. Therefore, it is important to pray in the order as found in the siddur.

23. It is our custom to recite the Parshat Ha’Akedah on Shabbat and Yom Tov as well, and this is not to be changed.

24. However, one who arrived late to Beit Kinesset on Shabbat and needs to skip a portion from the beginning of the prayer in order to pray with  the congregation [Shmoneh Esreh,or its repetition with the chazzan], there are those who say that it is preferable to skip the Parshat Ha’Akedah on Shabbat and not to skip the Mizmorim of Shabbat. And there are those who say that one is to skip the Mizmorim of Shabbat  and not to skip the Parshat Ha’Akedah since it is recited more often, and this is the halachah.

25. After reading the Parshat Ha’Akedah we say the verse, “ושחט אותו על ירך המזבח“. This is the custom of the Sephardim based on the Midrash, ‘‘Hashem said, ‘I testify to the Heaven and the Earth, (whether gentile or Israel), at the time that they say this  verse before Hashem, I shall remember Akeidat Yitzchak. (And we say the verse, “ושחט אותו…” before “איזהו מקומן…”.)

 26. It is good to say every day Parshat Hatamid. (Indeed, the recital of the Korbanot is not a complete obligation like the rest of tefillah, but rather is a worthy and good custom.) After Parshat Hatamid, it is good to say Ezehu Mikoman.

 27.  Even Yeshiva students and Torah scholars should make an effort to say every day the Korbanot and Ezehu Mikoman. There was one who wrote that it is meritorious for those Torah scholars who do not say the Parshat Hakorbanot since they are involved with toiling in the Torah. However, in our days it is not proper to rely on this reasoning and it is correct for all Torah scholars and all the more so Yeshiva students to say every day Parshat Ha’Akedah and the whole order of tefillah including the Korbanot and Ezehu Mikoman.

 28.  It is customary to say the Korbanot and Ezehu Mikoman also on Shabbat and Yom Tov.

 29.  One is to make an effort to say Korbanot specifically in the Beit Kinesset to resemble the bringing of sacrifices in the Beit Hamikdash. Even for those who are not careful to say Korbanot every day save times of plague or bad diseases in the world, it is good to read Parshat Hakorbanot every day because it is a great remedy and it lets one’s heart be confident That no evil accident will befall him since he is watched from all evil.

30. There are those who are accustomed to recite Parshat Olah and Parshat Chatat. It is not our custom to say them since we rely on reciting Ezehu Mikoman which contains the order of the sacrifices. We also do not recite the Parshat Hamenorah since it was necessary for the work in the Beit Hamikdash, and especially since in Parshat Haketoret we say “והקטיר עליו…” and we mention the candles

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