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Why Do We Sleep?

Why Do We Sleep?


Every day, many billions of man-hours are slept down the drain. If there are 6,000,000,000 human beings in the world, and each sleeps an average of 7.2 hours a night--well, you do the math. The bottom line is that slumbered time is probably our most wasted human resource.

Why do we spend 25% to 30% of our lives doing nothing? Why do we sleep?

Perhaps this seems a pointless question. Why sleep? Because our body demands it of us. Because that is how we are physiologically constructed--that we require so many hours of rest each day in order to function. But to the Jew, there are no pointless questions. If G‑d created us a certain way, there is a reason. If our active hours must always be preceded by what the Talmud calls the "minor death" of sleep, there is a lesson here, a truth that is fundamental to the nature of human achievement.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains: If we didn't sleep, there would be no tomorrow. Life would be a single, seamless today. Our every thought and deed would be an outgrowth of all our previous thoughts and deeds. There would be no new beginnings in our lives, for the very concept of a new beginning would be alien to us.

Sleep means that we have the capacity to not only improve but also transcend ourselves. To open a new chapter in life that is neither predicted nor enabled by what we did and were up until now. To free ourselves of yesterday's constraints and build a new, recreated self.

Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov taught that G‑d creates the world anew every millisecond of time. If we are His "partners in creation" (as the Talmud says we are), we should be able to do that too--at least once a day.

Wake up tomorrow--and start anew.

Based on the talks and writings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson; rendered by Yanki Tauber.
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Discussion (13)
January 18, 2011
Since we are partners in G-d's in creation, we should be able to start anew just as often as he wills every moment of our existence.

Why specifically the prolonged, unconscious state?
toronto, canada
November 1, 2009
That is a nice answer doesn't answer.( Nor does modern medicine easily answer the pain of life).
Sorry, the Question is still open.
Anthony Burman
Cape Town, SA
October 8, 2009
use sechel
Rhythms created by G-d for our survival exist in us, called "circadian". During these times hormones are increased, brain patterns slow down or change and bits and pieces of information are readjusted. The lack of sleep produces serious physiological changes.
Sleep is in every living thing as G-d created. So enjoy it as another gift and move on--it is a part of life nothing more or less.
glencoe, il
December 3, 2008
If you can't sleep, can the curse become a blessing?
Did Jaakov sleep while he served Laban?
cape town, south africa
October 25, 2008
The miracole of our "body" was created with the 7 hour required period to heal our broken parts, both spiritually and physiologically. Cells are replaced, damages are revitalized and our soul gets another opportunity to regroup. A brilliant product and gift we should cherish and take care of.
Herbert Schwarz, MD, FACS
Santa Ana, CA
August 7, 2007
modeh ani l'fanecha.....
August 5, 2007
Sleep & Dreams
Two points of thought:

1. The Rebbe said: "To a fool, that which cannot be explained cannot exist. The wise man knows that existence itself cannot be explained."

2. From the book Zhuangzi:
“Once upon a time,I, Chou, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Then I awoke, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.”
Eric S. Kingston
November 19, 2005
I just read the comment posted by Ken.
I connected with the last sentence about touching something spiritually.

This past Hoshanna Rabba night I had a dream in which I saw the Rebbe and received his blessing. How else could this have happened 'face-to-face' except in a dream?!

My sister told me of a saying in the Gemarra 'Ashre Mi she rou ponov ba halom.' Can anyone tell me the source where I can find this?
hobart , tasmania
November 19, 2005
I read this article at 2am hoping to get some leads on getting a full night's sleep. Well, I didn't, but found it a meaningful way to fill in time. Next step is to turn off the computer and go back to bed. And perhaps skip my 'shabbos shluf' next week!
hobart, tasmania
October 30, 2005
I feel that there is something spiritual about sleep. It is a break from the constraints we feel in the physical world. In dreams, the bizarre can easily happen -- there are no limitations, no boundaries. And so much can happen in a dream in so little time. When we sleep, we seem to leave physicality behind and for brief moments touch something spiritually.
sharon, ma