“Arise like a lion to serve your Creator in the morning” (Shulchan Aruch 1,1). As Jews, we are taught that if we have the mindset of a lion, we will successfully overcome the challenge of getting ourselves out of bed in the morning. What is the significance of this analogy?
Over two thousand years ago, our Sages recognized that the urge to worship idols was too powerful for the Jewish people to resist, and they prayed that it should be removed. Hashem complied and a fire-like lion ascended from the Holy of Holies. Our Sages captured this negative inclination (yeitzer hara), preventing it from having further influence (Yuma 69).
From this Talmudic story, we see that this negative inclination takes the form of lion. Strategically speaking, if we want to defeat it, we must also act like lions. For this reason, the Shulchan Aruch advises us to start our day like a lion (ibid. Shaarei Teshuva 1,1).
Lions are unique in the animal kingdom in that they are the only beasts which fear nothing. Even an armed man, who is more dangerous than a lion, does not arouse fear in this majestic creature.
When confronting the yeitzer hara, we must employ similar tactics. Even though the negative inclination is stronger than man, we must fight it with all our might, turning to Hashem to aid us in this struggle and never fearing defeat. In this way, we will win the battle (Taz 1,1).
Waking up in the morning is the first battle of the day. Generally, as soon as the alarm clock rings, we immediately think of many reasons why we should stay in bed a few minutes longer. It is at that moment we must become lion-like, pushing away the cunning arguments of the negative inclination and escaping from his grip – and from the lures of sleepiness.
Getting out of bed is our first challenge of the day. Modeh ani and the blessings of netilas yadayim, asher yatzar, and Elokai neshama, express our thanks to Hashem for aiding us to be victorious in this battle.
Text Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org