Tefila Tip #9, Morning Coffee and Blessings

27 Jan

If you’re anything like me, a strong cup of coffee in the morning is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.  My sluggishness is matched only by my grouchiness upon rising in the morning.  My friends know to give me a wide berth before roughly ten AM.  I’m not proud of this, but I accept it as one of my limitations.  I have learned to keep my mouth shut in the morning rather than get in any verbal spats with those unprepared for my morning mood.  And yet, I admit, there must be a better way of dealing with this murky attitude…

So, I wondered, what could be the spiritual root of my morning grouchiness.  In this case, the search was made easier by a Chasidic discourse that discusses the spiritual root of the morning blessings that we say upon arising.  The discourse compares the morning blessings to an event that occurs during this week’s Torah portion (Beshalach) – the exodus from Egypt.

The Exodus occurred when the Jews were not ready for it.  There was no way that they could prepare for such an event, since they themselves were very attached to their lives in Egypt.  Egypt – Mitzrayim in Hebrew – means “limitations.”  There’s no way you could live in Egypt and not be limited, spiritually, physically, emotionally.  Egypt was the land of occult sciences – the Egyptians knew how to “work on” their subjects to make them think that there was no way they could leave.  And so, by the time the Exodus came around, most of the Jews were no longer thinking of leaving.  It required a huge, supernatural boost from Above to remove the Jews from their state of limitations in Egypt.  A huge burst of spiritual light blasted the Jews free from the occult framework that the Egyptians had spun around them.  They couldn’t remove themselves from bondage of their own accord; action was required from Above.

The Chasidic discourse goes on to state that we are in a similar state every morning when we arise.  Sleeping is a mostly physical activity that places emphasis on the body.  We don’t think, we don’t feel, we merely rest our body.  So, when we awaken, we are more physical than spiritual.  It takes some time to work off the last vestiges of sleep.  In the meantime, we are bound and limited by our body, until our intellect and emotion begin to operate and we begin to function like human beings.  And, similar to the exodus from Egypt, it requires a high spiritual light to remove us from our stupor and launch us into avodat Hashem – “divine service.”  What provides the impetus?  What supplies the high light from Above that launches our day?  It’s the morning blessings.  When we bless the essential name of God, the name of Havaya, we bring down a blast of His infinite light, that similar to the exodus from Egypt, lifts us out of limitations.  Each of the eighteen morning blessings conveys an aspect of His infinite light that has the power to lift us out of limitations and kick-start our day.

Of course, given this explanation, it wasn’t necessary for me to look much further for the source of my morning mood.  When you arise and find yourself in limitations, half asleep, unable (for the moment) to concentrate or feel anything, it makes you “grouchy.”  But, among the things that I learned from the Chasidic discourse is that it’s the morning blessings that set us free, not the morning coffee…

We are not always capable of finding the spiritual source of our physical experiences below.  There are two ways in which we may succeed; either we can meditate well and properly to achieve the necessary spiritual level to solve the problem, or we can take advice from someone who has “been there before” and can report back to us.  If you want to know how I solved this quandary, go to www.jerusalemconnection.org/weekly.  There you will find a detailed account of how to arise and overcome your morning grouchiness.  If you’d like to know more about Jewish meditation and prayer, try our suite of books and www.jewishspiritualbooks.com.  And if you just want to know what’s happening in Jerusalem, try www.chabadjerusalem.org  Stay warm and cozy…

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