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

The Laws of Glassware and Pyrex Regarding the Prohibition of Milk and Meat Mixtures-Continued

In the previous Halacha we have written that according to Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch, glassware does not absorb any flavor from foods placed in it and thus, there is no prohibition to use a glass vessel for meat and then after it is washed well, to use it for dairy (although the Rama does rule st......

Read Halacha

Question: Must one designate two different sets of glassware for dairy and meat as one would with other utensils?

Question: Must one designate two different sets of glassware for dairy and meat as one would with other utensils? Answer: We have already established in the previous Halacha that one is obligated to designate two separate sets of dishes and flatware for dairy and meat, for dishes used with either......

Read Halacha

The “Shehecheyanu” Blessing on a New Garment

Question: When is the appropriate time to recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing on a new garment, at the time of purchase or the first time one wears it? Similarly, must one recite this blessing for every new piece of clothing one purchases? Answer: The Mishnah (Berachot 54a) teaches us ......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Milk and Meat Dishes and the Laws of Giving Putrid Taste

When one cooks meat in a pot, the walls of the pot absorb some of the food cooked in it and is therefore considered “meat”. If dairy is later cooked in the same pot, the pot will release some of the meat flavor contained in its walls into the dairy food and will therefore prohibit the en......

Read Halacha


Reciting the “Shehecheyanu” Blessing on Similar Types of Fruit

In the previous Halacha, we have established that one should recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing on citrus fruits, such as grapefruits or oranges, which are not so readily available throughout the year. When one merits eating from these fruits the first time during the year and the fruits......

Read Halacha

Reciting the “Shehecheyanu” Blessing on Grafted Fruits

Question: May one recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing the first time during the year one eats citrus fruits, such as grapefruits or oranges? Answer: We must first preface this discussion with the law that when one eats a new fruit that one has not yet partaken of that year, after recit......

Read Halacha

The Prohibition of Milk and Meat Mixtures

The Torah states three separate times (Shemot 23 and 34; Devarim 14): “You shall not cook a kid in its mother’s milk.” Our Sages (Chullin 114a) expounded that each of the times this prohibition is mentioned comes to teach us another law: The first time it is mentioned teaches us ab......

Read Halacha

The “Three Weeks”

The three-week period between the Seventeenth of Tammuz and the Ninth of Av is dubbed by our Sages “Between the Straits,” based on the verse (Eicha 1, 3), “All of her enemies overtook her between the straits.” Our Sages tell us that these three weeks between the Seventeenth o......

Read Halacha