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What is the spiritual purpose of sleep?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg


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The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Schneersohn, once posed this very question: we were placed on this world to be productive. We are the ultimate alchemists; charged with the duty of transforming the lowliest dross – this mundane world – into priceless spiritual gold. Why, then, did G-d create us with the natural need for eight hours of down-time each day? G-d put us down here for a limited number of years; and approximately one third of that valuable time is spent dreaming rather than producing!

Kabbalah teaches us that eating, working, traveling, etc., all are vital components of our divine service. When done with the proper spiritual intentions, each of these pursuits contributes to the “spiritualization” of this world. But what can possibly be gained by slumbering away precious hours?

G-d put us down here for a limited number of years; and approximately one third of that valuable time is spent dreaming rather than producing!
The answer the Rebbe offers is as simple as it is profound. It is very difficult for a person who is in the midst of having a bad day to make a complete turnabout. Human nature is such that if the morning went badly, the afternoon is likely to be worse. “Leave me alone; I’m having a bad day!” is a phrase all of us have heard, perhaps a bit too often... G-d, therefore, decided to give us a fresh start every 24 hours. With a new day comes a fresh attitude and renewed energy. What happened yesterday is history; today we can start anew! This is also why G-d created natural time cycles—days, weeks, months and years—not an infinite time continuum.


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Posted by: Anonymous, Homosassa, FL on Mar 31, 2006

great thoughts, Rabbi

I also believe sleep is not a waste of time because it rejuvinates our mind, body and soul and when we dream, if we pay attention, we can see many little things we need to adjust in our lives and sometimes get insight. When we are busy people, I believe sometimes God can get our attention better while resting than while active.

As a person who suffers from Chronic Fatique Syndrome, FibroMyalgia, and Adrenal Fatigue and need to sleep alot, I've thought about sleep much and now really appreciate its value. I no longer see it as a waste of time.

Jewish mysticism. The word Kaballah means "reception," for we cannot physically perceive the Divine, we merely study the mystical truths which were transmitted to us by G-d Himself through His righteous servants.
A Chassidic master. A saintly person who inspires followers to increase their spiritual awareness.
One who follows the teachings of the Chassidic group which was formerly based in the Belarus village of Lubavitch. Today, the movement is based in Brooklyn, New York with branches worldwide. The Lubavitch movement is also widely known as "Chabad."
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.