One of the most difficult things there is for most people to do is one of the things that virtually all people must do: to get out of bed in the morning.
One of life’s greatest hits in this regard is something that HKB”H arranged at creation to give us a helping hand: the rooster.
Clearly the rooster is one of man’s earliest friends, after all, for those of us who live in the countryside in an area without too much street lights, know that one of life’s best secrets is that there really ARE stars that come out at night. No joke!
However, on-par with the extreme beauty of the night-time sky is the gorgeousness of the morning sunrise. It’s beauty can take your breath away.
Having said that, it you also live in an area where there are live roosters, (which the aforementioned countryside tends to be), who are not confused by to much artificial light, then you know that at a certain time in the morning we are greeted with the chicken’s call to action: Cockadoodledo! (Or kukuriku, as the kids say here in Israel).
It’s a call to action… which most of us dread.
Time to get up and face yet another day… or is it?
I know that to many of the kids that I teach if it isn’t late morning – don’t bother waking me up! It’s easier to wake the dead.
Yet one of the most important things that a person can do is decide how it is that he/she gets out of bed in the morning. Indeed, the way that we get out of bed in the morning influences what will be with our entire day.
It is for this reason that our sages, ob”m, encoded into the halacha what it is that we are to do each and every day. From the time that we get up until the time we go to sleep the Shulchan Aruch volume Orach Chaim (and, indeed, all halacha works) tell us the Jewish way of getting up. It is only by scrutinizing these halachos that we truly get a lesson in appreciation as to the grandeur that is my day.
Upon opening one’s eyes in the morning, before we do anything else, we are to say the following words “I am grateful/thankful to You, Living, Everlasting King, for having returned to me my soul with utter mercy. Great is your emmuna!”
The intent of this statement is the expression of my first thought on waking up. “What a gift” we say! “Another day of life and potential”. Which we accompany with the fact that I recognize that this is a gift of intense magnitude for which we must say thanks. “Modeh” is both the language of todah, thanksgiving, and hoda’ah, which is recognition. It was used in this first prayer of the day specifically because of this double meaning.
The next thing that we do upon waking up is to make sure that we are dressed with a minimum amount of tznius, modesty. This act is in recognition of the fact that we are always in front of HaShem, yisborach. As the RaMah (Rav Moshe Isserles) writes in the SA (OC 1:1) that a great rule of the tzadikim is to constantly remember the verse in Tehillim “shivisi HaShem lenegdi tamid” “I place HaShem in front of me always”. As when we recognize that we are in the presence of “royalty” – we act accordingly!
We then wash our hands with water from a cup full of water three times per hand alternating from the right to the left hand each time (right-left, right-left, right-left). This is to internalize that we are given life to live in sanctity and purity, which is the goal of the hand washing (there are many other reasons given as well, I only mention this one in the context of the article).
Now that we have prepared ourselves it’s time to make our first blessing of the day “ha’nosen la’sechvi vinah, lehavchin bein yom u’vein lailah”, Blessed are You, Living, Everlasting Lord, who has given the rooster understanding to differentiate between day and night”. We mention this as the first of the morning blessings because we are supposed to internalize that getting up in the morning is a good thing, but getting up REALLY early in the morning is a GREAT thing. That there is an animal in existence iwho makes it his daily point to get up and give us a call to action is something to be praised, not cursed! For those of us who break our alarm clocks when they go off, or for whom the construction of complex snooze buttons is an issue, just get a chicken! They have no “off” button whatsoever!
However even before arriving at the appointed destination of the rooster crying out in the morning is the intention that we should consider about it before going to bed.
תתגבר כארי לעמוד בבוקר לעבודת הבורא,
“Arouse yourself as a lion to stand up in the morning to worship your Creator”, says the SA (ibid). It’s not just your attitude when you wake up in the morning that you should consider, it’s also how you go to bed at night, and the plans that you make at night before you go to sleep also play a very important part of what your day is going to be like the next day.
If we wake up in the morning and roar like a lion, other than sounding a little silly, also belays our intent to “capture” the day, just as a lion arouses itself in order to hunt it’s prey.
Every single day is a gift. Every day is full of newness and potential. If we start our day in the Torah prescribed way we also set our sights of making this day into one of great opportunity. For only a day in which we recognize what we have and where we got it from is a day in which we will try to fulfill it.
So plan to wake up and roar! See what a difference it can make in YOUR life.