Halacha for Wednesday 11 Sivan 5780 June 3 2020

How One Should Conduct Himself in the Morning

The Mishnah in Pirkei Avot (Chapter 5) states: “Yehuda ben Tema says: Be bold like a leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer, and mighty as a lion to perform the will of your father in Heaven.” Let us now explain this Mishnah.

The Tanna writes that one must be as “bold as a leopard” meaning that there are times when one will abstain from performing a Mitzvah because others ridicule him. The Mishnah therefore commands not to abstain from performing the Mitzvot under any circumstances; rather, one must be bold in the face of those who ridicule him and perform the Mitzvot.

This is especially relevant regarding things which society is not accustomed to. For instance, if a woman has friends who do not cover their hair, it will be very difficult for her to cover her hair, for she will be afraid to lose her friends. Similarly, if one wishes not to lose out on his daily Torah class and therefore decides not to answer his phone during the class, he will be afraid that his friends will ridicule him that he “has become a righteous fellow.” Another example of this is when one wishes to take care not to speak during prayer services and his friend sitting right next to him asks him a question; one will certainly be ashamed not to answer. In all these and similar situations, one must be bold and unswerving to keep the commandments of Hashem as one wishes to. Hashem will help to make one more admired by his peers for his commitment to Torah and Mitzvot.

Nevertheless, one must take great care not to fight with others, for ultimately, boldness and audacity are bad traits, so much so that some say they should not even be used for the service of Hashem. One should therefore make sure to secure himself friends and acquaintances of high spiritual caliber who are Torah and Mitzvah observant themselves in order to ease one’s commitment to Torah and Mitzvot.

The reason why the Mishnah states specifically “light like an eagle” as opposed to any other bird is because the eagle has extraordinary sight even in great distances, for although it flies at great altitude, it can discern any carcass on the ground. Our Sages therefore warn us to be cautious regarding what our eyes see, for sight is the first stage of sinning since the eyes see, the heart desires, and the other limbs achieve the sin. Rather, one must be as “light as an eagle” and quickly ignore what one has seen and what one’s heart desires. 

When the Mishnah states that one must be “swift like a deer,” this refers to the fact that one’s legs should always run to good things, as King David states (Tehillim 119), “Guide me in the path of your commandments.” One should not become lethargic while on his way to perform a Mitzvah.

When the Mishnah states that one must be as “mighty as a lion,” this teaches us that one must be as mighty as a lion regarding performance of the Mitzvot and one must overcome his evil inclination and abstain from performing prohibitions, for both performing Mitzvot and abstaining from sinning require tremendous might. Based on this, Maran begins the first chapter of his Shulchan Aruch as follows:

“One must infuse himself with might like a lion to awaken in the morning to the service of his Creator and one should awaken even before dawn.”

The Poskim explain that if one cannot wake up so early in the morning, especially nowadays when we have electricity and therefore do not go to sleep as early or if one is worried that waking up so early will disturb his Torah study and service of Hashem, according to the letter of the law, one may wake up later. One must nevertheless take care not to miss the latest times for reciting Keri’at Shema and prayer, for one is obligated to abide by these times. One must always think to himself how careful one would be to arise early if he was commanded to so in order to serve a king of flesh and blood; how much more so must take care regarding the service of the King of all Kings, Hashem, blessed is He.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Megillah Reading- Coronavirus

Every member of the Jewish nation is obligated to read the Megillah on the day of Purim. One must read it during the night and once again the next day, as the verse states, “My G-d, I call out to you during the day and you do not answer; during the night I have no rest.” This verse is wr......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Hearing Parashat Zachor- Coronavirus

“Remember What Amalek Has Done to You” On the Shabbat preceding Purim, which is this coming Shabbat, after the opening of the Ark immediately following Shacharit prayers, two Sifrei Torah are removed; in the first one, we read the weekly Parasha (which is Parashat Vayikra this year, 577......

Read Halacha

Matanot La’Evyonim- Coronavirus

In the previous Halacha we briefly discussed the Mitzvah of “Matanot La’Evyonim” on Purim day which is the distribution of two monetary gifts, one to each pauper. What Must One Give? In order to fulfill this Mitzvah, one need not give actual gifts; rather, it is permissible to ......

Read Halacha

The Days of Purim and the Laws of Mishloach Manot- 5781

The Days of Purim Purim will be celebrated in approximately two weeks from today. This year, we must discuss several unique laws, first of all, because Purim day (the 14th of Adar) falls out on a Friday. Second of all, in Jerusalem, a “three-day Purim” will be celebrated since the 15th ......

Read Halacha


The Mitzvah of the Purim Feast This Year (5781)

Holding the Purim Feast at Night The holiday of Purim is different than all other holidays we celebrate in that whereas regarding other holidays the Mitzvah of partaking of a joyous holiday meal applies during the day and night, regarding the holiday of Purim, there is only a Mitzvah to hold a feas......

Read Halacha

 A Joint Mishloach Manot by Husband and Wife

Question: On Purim I stay home and I do not give out my own Mishloach Manot. May I fulfill my obligation by sending a joint Mishloach Manot along with my husband? Answer: First, let us discuss the obligation of women with regards to Mishloach Manot. A Woman’s Obligation in Mishloach Mano......

Read Halacha

The Mitzvah of Joy and Torah Learning on Purim Day

There is a Mitzvah eat heartily during the Purim Feast. One should preferably eat bread during this meal. The Rambam (Chapter 2 of Hilchot Megillah, Halacha 15) writes: “What is the extent of one’s obligation during this feast? One should eat meat and prepare a delicious meal to the b......

Read Halacha

Sucking On a Fruit

Question: If one sucks on an orange or a grapefruit but does not chew it with one’s teeth, must one recite the “Boreh Peri Ha’etz” like on other fruits or should one recite the “Shehakol” blessing like one would when drinking other fruit juices? Answer: Indeed,......

Read Halacha