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1:1. One should strengthen himself like a lion to get up in the morning (1) for the service of his Creator, in order that he “wake up” (2) the morning [meaning arise before dawn]. {Rema: In any event, one should not delay the time for praying [beyond the time] (3) that the congregation prays (Tur).}

{Rema: “I have set Hashem constantly before me” is a major principle in the Torah, and in the virtues of (4) the righteous who walk before G-d. This is true because the way a person sits, moves and conducts himself alone in his house is not like the way he sits, moves and conducts himself in the presence of a great king, nor are his speech and facial expression however he likes, [as they are] when he is with the members of his household or with relatives, as when having an audience with the king. So how much more so [should his conduct etc. be not like that which might otherwise be at home] when he considers that the Great King, the Holy One Blessed be He, whose glory fills the whole world, is standing over him and sees all his deeds (as it is written “‘Is a man [able] to hide himself in any hiding place and I cannot see him?’, says Hashem”).

[From this realization] one will immediately be overcome with the fear and humility that comes from the dread of Hashem, may He be Blessed, and he will constantly be ashamed (The Guide to the Perplexed Part 3 Chapter 52), and [on the contrary] he will not be ashamed (5) because of those people who (6) mock his service of Hashem, may He be Blessed. (7) Even in one’s conduct in private or when he goes to bed, he should know before whom he is laying down, and when he wakes up he should get up (8) quickly [in order to carry out] the service of his Creator, may He be Blessed and Exalted (Tur).}

MB 1: For the Service of his Creator — Because man was created for this purpose, as the verse says, “All that is called in My Name, and for My Honor, I Created it, etc.” And even if one’s inclination will attempt to draw him off in the winter by saying “How can you get up in the morning, when the cold is so intense?” — or in the summer by saying “How can you arise from your bed, when you are still not well-rested from your sleep?” — nonetheless he should overpower it and not listen to it, and think to himself: if he would be required to stand in service before a king of flesh and blood, how careful and quick would he be to arise early to prepare himself for his service? All the more so, and the ultimate comparison between minor and severe, [when one is called to serve] in front of the King Who Reigns over kings, the Holy One Blessed be He.

MB 2: The Morning — In the Shnei Luchos HaBris, he writes that there is a Kabbalistic principle to tie together day and night with Torah study or prayer [during the transition], both morning and evening.

Immediately upon arising, if one does not want to go back to sleep he should wash his hands even if he plans to remain lying down, and all the more so he should not move four paces [6-8 feet] without washing his hands — and one must be very careful about this. The Holy Zohar says stunning things about this, and the great punishment that it brings, because the person is retaining an impure spirit upon him. [This has to do with Kabbalistic understandings about sleep, the relationship between body and soul, and what happens upon arising. — YM]

Nonetheless, Heaven forbid that a person should violate any prohibition because he does not have water with which to wash his hands, such as preventing himself from attending to his bodily functions, or taking water that a friend prepared for himself — if he is not certain that he will immediately replace the water (there are those who stumble in this area).

If a situation arises where the only water available is far away, and he has no one to bring it to him, then some who guard their souls have the custom to go a few steps of less than four paces, pause, and repeat [until they reach the water]. The Sha’arei Tshuvah writes that this does not appear correct; rather, it is better that one go quickly in order not to leave a bad spirit upon his hands. There are those who say that in this regard we consider an entire building to be like four paces, but one should not rely upon this except in a pressing situation.

If a person arises at night, and does not have sufficient water to wash his hands three times properly in order to remove the impure spirit (and also to wash his hands again at dawn), then Heaven forbid that he should be idle from words of Torah for this reason until daybreak. Rather, he should use a bit of the water, or he should clean his hands with any cleansing agent available, say the appropriate blessings, and learn the Talmud and Laws normally.

MB 3: That the Congregation prays — Even though the time for prayer will not have passed, there is still a mitzva to pray with the congregation (and see later at the end of MB 9).

MB 4: The Righteous — Which is that they constantly establish within their minds that they are standing in front of the Blessed G-d, because the Holy One, Blessed be He, fills the entire world with his glory. It is written in the name of the Ari, of blessed memory, that one should constantly formulate the four-letter Ineffable Name of G-d (Yud — Hey — Vav — Heh) [See a Hebrew edition of the MB for vowels] in his mind’s eye; this is the fundamental [indicated in the verse of Psalms] “I have set HaShem before me always,” and it is of tremendous value for inducing fear of Heaven.

For this reason, there were those who had the practice of drawing Menoros [candelabras in the traditional shape, with arms reaching to each side] on paper with designs, in order to place them in prayer books, and they wrote upon them “I have set HaShem [the four letter name] etc.” and other names of G-d. This Menorah design was called a “Shivisi” [the first word of the Hebrew verse, “I have set, etc.”]. The reason for doing this was in order that they remember not to have idle conversations during prayers, due to their awe of G-d.

The Shaarei Tshuva wrote in the name of the Tevuas Shor that it is appropriate to make great efforts [lit. wage war] to stop this practice, because in the majority of cases the holiness of these papers is not protected properly, and they become scattered about on the ground, and in several cases the name of G-d is erased. However, it would appear that this does not refer to the large Menoros drawn on parchment and posted in the synagogue behind glass in front of the Chazzan’s lectern, because the reason of potential desecration does not apply. [These Menoros are still often found in the prayer books of Sephardic Jewry, but either printed directly on the cover or on one of the pages inside, rather than as a loose paper. -YM] Until here were his words [meaning those of the Shaarei Tshuva].

One should object, however, to those who post them at the lectern without a glass cover, because as a result of the candles placed there the name of G-d becomes erased in the majority of cases, Heaven forbid.

MB 5: Because of those People — Nonetheless you should not argue with them, because the trait of insolence is very disgusting, and one should not use or exhibit it at all even in the service of Hashem. It will become part of the person, and he will then be insolent even for things other than the service of HaShem. See in the Biur Halacha.

MB 6: Mock his Service — So too, if he is a normal person who is in the presence of great people, he should not be ashamed to learn from them, or do a mitzva in front of them, although it is better to do the mitzva not in front of them if possible. But if it is in front of other common people who would learn from him, some say that it is better to do a mitzvah in front of them in order that they learn from his behavior. Nonetheless his heart should be directed for the sake of Heaven, and not in order to become glorified from it, Heaven forbid.

MB 7: Even in One’s Conduct in Private — Meaning that even when one is alone in his house, his ways should still be with Hashem his G-d as he concludes.

MB 8: Quickly — Not necessarily right away; rather one should wait a little and not stand immediately because that is bad for the body. Immediately upon standing it is good to say “Modeh ani lefanecha melech chai vekayam shehechezarta bi nishmasi bechemla raba emunasecha” (I gratefully thank you, living and eternal king, for you have returned my soul to me with compassion, abundant is your faithfulness). The word bechemla should be said with an esnachta, and the words “raba emunasecha” should be said without a pause. This is from the verse “Renewed for the mornings, etc.” For this one does not need to wash his hands even if they are dirty, because this sentence does not mention G-d’s name nor any nickname. It seems that it is forbidden to learn Torah without washing; even without this it is prohibited if one does not say the blessings on the Torah, and see above at the end of MB 2.

{The Biur Halacha says that the person who desires to truly “set HaShem before [himself] always” should devote his energies to fulfilling that which is written in a short passage from the Sefer HaChinuch [a book which lists all of the commandments], and then he quotes the passage in its entirety. The Sefer HaChinuch says that “there are six commandments that are a constant and unceasing obligation on a person, all the days of his life, and at any time or moment that he thinks of these he fulfills a positive Torah commandment, and there is no limit to the reward for fulfillment of commandments…” The Six Constant Mitzvos are as follows:

A) To believe that there is One G-d in the world, who brought into existence all that was created, and that He brought us out from Egypt and gave us His Torah.

B) Not to believe that there is any other G-d or higher power ruling over the world, including even the belief that G-d created everything but gave control of the world over to an angel or star. Rather, a person must believe that the Holy One, Blessed be He, constantly maintains all of the worlds, and no created being can change anything against His will.

C) To Unify HaShem, as we say in the Shema, “Hear O Israel, HaShem our G-d, HaShem is One.” The intent is to recognize that G-d created everything according to His will, and He rules over all the worlds, and that He is one G-d without any divisions or partners.

D) To Love HaShem. One comes to Love HaShem by learning Torah, because studying it enables us to realize HaShem’s greatness. One who thinks only about physical, worldly matters and does not do things for the sake of heaven is failing to perform this Mitzvah.

E) To Fear HaShem. This constant Mitzvah helps to prevent us from transgressing the Torah. If the desire to sin comes to a person, he is obligated to dwell on the fact that HaShem sees and judges our every action.

F) To avoid being drawn after one’s heart or eyes. Our Sages said that these refer to heresy and sexual immorality, respectively. Heresy usually begins not intellectually, but emotionally — the intellectual justification follows later. The Sefer HaChinuch includes under heresy not merely denying G-d, but any strange philosophy or ideal that does not emerge from Torah, and under immorality he includes being drawn after “the good life” without any intent to use enjoyment of life in order to better his service of G-d.

The Biur Halacha notes that the Chayei Adam quotes the Sefer HaChinuch as well, and discusses these six Mitzvos extensively. — YM }

1:2. One who rises early to say supplications before his Creator should aim to do so at those times when the watches change [the nighttime hours being divided into three “watches”], namely after one third of the night, at the end of two thirds of the night and at the end of the night itself — for any prayer offered at these times concerning the destruction [of the Temple] and the exile [of the Jews] is accepted.

1:3. (9) It is fitting for every G-d fearing person (10) to feel grief and concern over (11) the destruction of the Temple.

MB 9: It is fitting for every etc. — The Kabbalists [the “receivers” of the mystical oral tradition of the Torah] have discussed at great lengths the importance of rising at midnight [to say the “Tikkun Chatzos” (“A repair of midnight”), a set of prayers mourning over the destruction of the Temple (*)] and how great this is. There have already been published in some Siddurim the order [of such prayers] based on the writings of the Ari, of blessed memory.

Midnight [for these and Halachic purposes generally] is always precisely halfway through the night, no matter whether the nights are long or short, and is twelve [seasonal] hours after midday, [the daylight hours and night time hours being divided each by twelve and each twelfth being a “seasonal” hour].

The most preferred time for [saying “Tikkun Chatzos”,] mourning over the destruction of the Temple, is a little before midnight. Then from midnight onwards one should involve himself in Torah study. At the end of the night one should pray for one’s own needs — some say the “watches for the morning” [Shomrim LaBoker] at this point. If it is nearly sunrise then one should say only the Psalms [(**)] and skip over the Lamentations [Kinos] [(***)], and say “watches for the morning” [“Shomrim LaBoker”]. After the “Tikkun” one should study the Mishnah [(****)] before anything else, and if one is deserving of true wisdom, then this time is very propitious.

[* — I am indebted to the Breslov Research Institute for their publication “The Sweetest Hour — Tikkun Chatzot” by Avraham Greenbaum, which has several chapters on the nature and content of Tikkun Chatzos and the actual prayers themselves in Hebrew with an English translation.] [** — Tikkun Chatzos comes in two forms. The first is known as “Tikkun Rachel” and is recited only on days when Tachanun is recited. It begins with the “Oshamnu” Vidui [confession] and is followed by Psalms’ 137 and 79, Lamentations chapter 5 and five Kinos [lamentations — see below]. The other form is known as “Tikkun Leah” which is recited on days when Tachanun is not recited (Shabbat, Yom Tov, the whole Month of Nisan, etc.). Tikkun Leah mainly comprises Psalms’ 24, 42, 43, 20, 67, 111, 51 and 126 and a beautiful poem by Rabbi Chaim HaKohen entitled “My Beloved has gone down to His garden” [“Dodi Yorad LeGano”].] [*** — There are five Kinos authored respectively by Rabbi Moshe Alshich, Rabbi Chaim HaKohen, and three unknown authors. There is an additional Kina written by Rabbi Yaakov of Emden (the Ya’avetz).] [**** — “Mishnah” refers to the initial codification of the Oral Law by Rebbe Yehudah HaNasi in the Second Century C.E., which forms the basis of the Talmud. The custom in the morning is to learn the first chapter of Tractate Tamid, which describes the procedure in the Temple from midnight until the morning.]

The Later Authorities received a tradition that from “Lie down” [Shichvi] until “Arise” [Kumi], ie. from Shavuos when we say “Shichvi” until the 9th of Av when we say “Kumi” it is not necessary to rise at night; some say that one should rise at night [only] from the 15th of Av through the 15th of Iyar. However, those whose custom is drawn from Kabbalah are of the opinion that one should always rise [at night, no matter what time of year it is].

One should not prevent a group who gather together to say “Tikkun Chatzos” as a congregation from doing so. On the contrary, “the King is glorified by a multitude” [BeRov Am Hadras Melech]. It is preferable if they say the “Tikkun” in the main Synagogue rather than a side room, both because the Synagogue is more holy and also they will then be among the first ten [present for the Minyan when morning prayers commence].

It is especially important to be extremely careful to avoid talk of everyday matters when arising at night.

If one is unable to rise before dawn because of a weak constitution, or because he knows that if he rises early he will fall asleep during [morning] prayers, then it is preferable that he sleep as much as necessary. Nevertheless, he should take great care to rise one hour, or at the very least half an hour, before prayers [lit. “the Shamash calls (congregants) to the synagogue”], in order that he be able to prepare himself for prayer with the congregation and [so that he has time to] cleanse himself.

MB 10: To feel grief — But [learning] Torah and praying should be done with joy.

MB 11: The destruction of the Temple. — The Shla”h wrote that at every meal [before saying Grace after Meals] one should recite “By the waters of Babylon” [“Al Naharos Bovel” — Psalm 137 — which mentions weeping for the destruction of Jerusalem], and on Shabbat and those days when “Tachanun” [the Penitential Supplication said after the Amidah — see Siman 131] is not said one should recite “A Song of Ascents; when Hashem returns etc” [“Shir HaMa’alos Beshuv Hashem” — Psalm 126 — which mentions the joy at Hashem returning the captives to Zion]. The most important principle is that one should know what he is saying and that his words come sincerely from the heart.

1:4. It is better to say a few supplications with proper concentration [Kavonoh] than many (12) without.

MB 12: Without proper concentration — But if the one who says several [supplications] also concentrates, then the more the better.

If one who says few does so because of some unavoidable circumstance [“Oness”] and is thus unable to lengthen [his prayers], or if he reckons that if he were to lengthen [his prayers] he would not be able to do so with proper concentration, and if, having said few prayers, he does concentrate properly, then he is considered equal before Hashem (may He be Blessed) to a person who has sufficient time and says lengthy prayers with proper concentration. Concerning this we have learned “Whether one says few [prayers] or many… only that one must direct his heart towards Heaven”. The same applies to learning Torah: before Hashem (may He be Blessed), all depends on whether one does all that is within one’s power to do.

One who knows Torah and has the capability to understand and learn may refrain from saying the many prayers and supplications that are printed in the Siddurim [prayer books]; it is better if he learns instead. A man must set a time for himself to learn ethics [Mussar] on a daily basis, whether a small amount or a lot, because one who is greater than his fellow man has a stronger [evil] inclination, and the antidote for the evil inclination is the rebukes found in the words of our Sages of Blessed Memory.

1:5. It is good to recite (13) the portion relating to the binding of Isaac [the “Akeidah” — Genesis 22:1-19], the portion relating to the Mannah [ the “Mon” — Exodus 16:11-36], the Ten Utterances [“Asseres HaDibros” — Exodus 20:1-14 (often mistranslated as the “Ten Commandments”)] and the portions relating to the burnt offering [“Oloh” — Leviticus 1:1-9], the meal offering [“Minchah” — ibid. 2:1-13], (14) the peace offering [“Sh’lomim” — ibid 3:1-5 and 7:11 through 8:38], (15) the sin offering [“Chattos” — ibid 4:27-31] and the guilt offering [“Oshom” — ibid 7:1-5]. {Rema: Only an individual is permitted to recite the Ten Utterances every day; it is forbidden to recite them (16) as a congregation (The Responsa of the Rashboh Siman 144).}

MB 13: The Akeidah — [It should be recited] before the portions relating to the sacrificial offerings. One may recite the Akeidah and the portion relating to the Mannah even on Shabbat.

It is not sufficient merely to recite [these portions], rather one must understand what he is saying so as to appreciate the wonders of Hashem. So too regarding what the Sages said in the Talmud: “Anyone who recites “A Psalm of David” [“Tehillah LeDovid” — i.e. “Ashrei”] three times a day will be certain of a place in the World to Come” — this also has the same requirement [that one understand what he is saying].

The reason for reciting all of these [portions is as follows]:

The Akeidah — in order to remember the merits of the Forefathers every day, and also to humble one’s inclinations just as Isaac offered up his soul [as a sacrifice to HaShem]. [Meaning that we should also give up all of our personal desires in order to properly serve HaShem.]

The portion relating to the Mannah — in order that one trust that all of his sustenance comes from Divine Providence, as it is written: “One who does more [in his everyday endeavors] will not gain and one who does less will not lose.” This is order to teach [us] that great efforts [in such matters] is of no help whatsoever. It is mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud in Tractate B’rochos: “Anyone who recites the portion relating to the Mannah will be assured that his sustenance will not diminish”.

The Asseres HaDibros — in order to recall the assembly at Mount Sinai [when Israel received the Torah] every day, and in order to strengthen one’s faith in HaShem.

The portions relating to the sacrificial offerings — as it says in Tractate Menochos: “‘This is the Law [Torah] of the sin offering’ [ibid 6:18] — anyone who engages in the study of the Law [Torah] of the sin offering, it is as if he had brought a sin offering etc.”

MB 14: The Peace Offering — One should also recite the portion of the thanksgiving offering, because it is also one type of peace offering.

After the burnt, peace, and thanksgiving offerings one should recite the portion relating to the libations [“Nesochim” — Numbers 15:1-16 (**)] as there was no such sacrifice [that was not brought] without an accompanying libation, but a burnt offering and a guilt offering did not require libations. [** — The Chapter and Verse references for all the various portions mentioned in this Se’if were taken from the Biur Halachah.]

MB 15: The Sin Offering — See in the Magen Avrohom, who writes that if one knows that one [has transgressed, and thus] is obligated to bring a sin offering, then one should recite the portion relating to the sin offering first [before all the other portions mentioned above]. But from the words of other decisors, it does not appear that they follow his opinion.

MB 16: As a Congregation — Because of those who deny [Hashem and the Torah], who say that the Torah only comprises these [Ten Utterances]; and this is especially applicable in our times. Therefore, we do not write them on a pamphlet which is for public use only.

There are some who have written that it is not forbidden to recite them publicly, rather [what is forbidden] is to place them between blessings, similar to the Reading of the Shema [which is surrounded by blessings, see Siman 58 ff.]. But to recite them before the Blessing that preceeds the “P’sukei DeZimroh” [Verses of Praise, see Siman 51] is permitted, even publicly.

We, however, have decided to forbid [their recitation] in public altogether, and [we permit their recitation] by an individual only where it is not during the prayers, but to place them between blessings is forbidden even for an individual (Olas Tamid and the Or HaChayim).

1:6. The sections [relating to] sacrifices should only be recited (17) during the day (See also 47:13)

MB 17: During the day — Because sacrifices are only brought during the day. However the section discussing the Kiyor [The special vessel used by the priests to wash and purify their hands and feet prior to performing any service in the temple] and that discussing the removal of ashes from the altar each morning can be recited before daytime. One who will have no time [available during the coming day] may also recite the sections of the sacrifices at night. Concerning whether there is an obligation to stand while reciting these sections, see Siman 48, MB 1.

The Shelah says that on Shabbos and Yom Tov, one should not add the recitation of “Yehi Ratzon …” [“May our recitation of these sections dealing with the sacrifices be considered as if we had brought our own sacrifices”] because it is prohibited to bring voluntary sacrifices on these days. Nonetheless it is permissible to recite the sections themselves as regular Torah study; however, if one is a Torah scholar then it is better to spend the time studying the day’s reading.

A mourner should not recite the sections of the sacrifices.

1:7. After completion of the section of the burnt offering [Olah], one should say “May it be Your will … that this [reading] should be regarded and accepted as if I brought a burnt offering.” One should say a similar recitation after completing the sections of the bread [Mincha] and peace [Shlamim] offerings, because they may be (18) brought voluntarily.

MB 18: Brought voluntarily — However after the section of the sin offering [Chatas] one should not say this recitation; the Chatas cannot be brought at will, but only if one has transgressed a commandment that requires the bringing of a Chatas. This also applies to the guilt offering [Asham] and guilt offering in case of doubt [Asham Talui] which we have similarly concluded cannot be brought on a voluntary basis.

The later authorities quote the Rashal as saying that one may indeed say “May it be Your will…” even after the sections of the Chatas and Asham, but it must be said conditionally. This means that one must say “May it be Your will … that if I have committed a transgression for which one is obligated to bring a Chatas, then this [reading] should be considered as if I have brought it, and if not, then it should be considered only as reading of a section of the Torah,” and similarly after reading the section of the Asham. The Magen Avraham asks how this conditional language could be applied to the Chatas, since bringing a Chatas requires that one has certain knowledge of his transgression. He therefore rules that this conditional form should not be said for a Chatas, but only for the Asham and Asham Talui. However if one’s heart leads him to feel that he may have transgressed and known of his sin at one time but then forgot, in that case he may say the conditional form even concerning a Chatas (Sha’arei Teshuva).

1:8. When reciting the portions concerning (19) the Sacrificial Offerings, one should also say the verse [Leviticus 1:11] “(20) And he shall slaughter it on the side of the altar northward before Hashem…”

MB 19: With the Sacrificial Offerings — Our custom today is to say it after the portion relating to the Continual Sacrifice [Tamid].

MB 20: And he shall Slaughter it — As mentioned in the Midrash, that whenever someone says this verse the Holy One, Blessed be He, remembers the Binding of Yitzchak [and His promise to Avraham regarding his descendants].

1:9. Some have the custom to say the portion relating to the washbasin [Kiyor] [Exodus 30:17], the portion relating to the removal of the ashes [Terumas HaDeshen] [Leviticus 6:1], the portion relating to the Continual Sacrifice [Tamid] [Numbers 28:1], the portion relating to the altar on which to burn incense [Exodus 30:1], and the portion relating to the ingredients and making up of the incense [ibid 30:34], in that order.

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