Every day, tens of billions of man-hours are slept down the drain. One might argue that slumbered time is our most wasted resource. Indeed, why spend 25 to 30 percent of our lives doing nothing? Why sleep?

Perhaps this seems a pointless question. Why sleep? Because our body demands it of us. Because that is how we are physiologically constructedthat 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.

If we didn't sleep, there would be no tomorrowlife would be a single, seamless "today." If we didn't sleep, 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 utterly alien to us.

Sleep means that we have the capacity not only to improve but also to 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.

Freely adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe,
Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory.