Let My People Know

"On waking one should contemplate that God, Who fills the entire universe with His glory, is standing before him, and he should rise energetically to serve Him"


The first paragraph of the Shulchan Arukh (Code of Jewish Law) states that on waking one should contemplate that God, Who fills the entire universe with His glory, is standing before him, and he should rise energetically to serve Him. 

One who can indeed visualize this picture with its full tangible import need not be told to do anything.

As a logical consequence, he will leap out of bed and rush to his Creator's service. 

The problem arises when his mental screen is blank, when he opens his eyes in the morning and, at best, knows that such a passage appears in the Shulchan Arukh

Such a person needs to be told, and must tell himself, what he should be feeling. 

And on the strength of his knowing what he is supposed to feel, he can get up and function properly.

This is the difference between the tzaddik (righteous person) and the beinoni (intermediate man). 

The tzaddik need not be told that "closeness to God is good".

He knows this from within himself, and consequently there is no longer an internal conflict. 

The beinoni is aware, at best, that such a verse appears in Psalms.

The story is told of a young man at the dawn of Hasidism who became attracted to its teachings, fled from his household to the rebbe, and remained there several years before returning. 

His father-in-law was furious, but at the same time rejoiced at his return. "Tell me,” he asked, "you spent so much time with your rebbe, what did you learn?"

"I learned that God is everywhere," replied his son-in-law. 

His father-in-law bristled: ''Are you making fun of me?" 

He called over his maid and asked, "Where is God?" 

"Everywhere,” she answered. 

He turned to his son-in-law: "So, for this you spent all those years?" 

"She says," his son-in-law answered, "but I know." 

A distinction like this can require many years; sometimes even a lifetime is not enough.

In the Song of Songs, we find a similar situation: "My beloved is knocking.” 

God knocks on one's door: one must get up and open the door. 

And the person thinks to himself: Now, when I'm lying in a warm bed, I have to get up? I have taken off my coat; how can I put it back on? I have washed my feet; how can I get them dirty? 

A person has a choice in this situation: sometimes he gets up, sometimes not. 

But the next verse relates: "My beloved put his hand on the latch.”

God has reached out His hand; He is coming into view! 

"My heart thrills for Him" and immediately, "I rose up.”

The individual gets up by himself; he jumps out of bed without worrying about whether he washed his feet or took off his coat. 

There are times when a person knows that He exists, and he will make his own calculations, with arguments one way or the other. 

But at the moment of firsthand experience, the revelation of this One, all his personal considerations evaporate. 

He jumps out of bed and runs to serve God, with no patience for any inner debates.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From Learning from the Tanya, Chapter 16, by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz