Caution: Weariness

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Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Are you weary these days? if so, try reading this week's Torah portion. Many commentators speak about the differences between wicked Esau and righteous Yaakov. But before they do, the Torah describes one major factor that influences the choices of the evil Esau: weariness. Indeed, Esau agrees to sell his birthright to Yaakov for a bowl of lentil stew after returning weary from the hunt and announcing: "I am weary." Weariness causes Esau loss of concentration, impaired judgment, jitteriness, and lack of motivation. Esau is prone to weariness and gluttony. He was not refined enough to appreciate spiritual matters such as a birthright - that perpetuates a family's legacy. Perhaps before asking if you are righteous or evil, it is worthwhile to ask: Are you weary?

The code of Jewish law or Shulchan Aruch opens with the instruction to "strengthen yourself like a lion to get up in the morning to serve your Creator." In other words, we must make an effort to strengthen ourselves in order to get out of bed in the morning. This is of course true, but I once heard from Yemima Mizrahi that today, in light of all the distractions and temptations of late night hours, in light of the lack of sleep that characterizes most of our lives, in light of our tendency to postpone our bed time, perhaps it is not enough to just strengthen ourselves in the morning, but we should also "strengthen ourselves like a lion to cut ourselves off from everything at night - and go to bed on time."

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