Elul 14 5775  – August 29 2015


“Human Being Why do you sleep!”  calls out the captain to the sleeping Jonah, a prophet fleeing from his call. That one biblical wake-up call has made it into the liturgy of these days of return, especially for those who rise up every morning for a whole month, Sefardi style, to recite the morning penitence of Elul – the Slichot. It includes this gorgeous piyut – Ben Adam – wake up!    I remember how much earlier I got out of bed for these earlier Elul prayers, back in my school and Yeshiva days, the chilly early morning hours of an Israeli fall season, wishing to stay in bed a bit longer..

But maybe in order for our self and soul to really wake up we first have to get a really good night’s sleep. And that’s not not always easy.

Maybe because of all the recent jetlag I’m  focusing on better sleep tonight. Maybe also because of the pillows.

In these past few months I’ve been a guest at several homes and hotels in a few countries and have now come back home to re-evaluate, among other things,  the status of my own pillows in the context of  general review of quality of sleep.


It’s good to come back to your own bed with the perspective of many nights elsewhere, having had the chance to try out different beds and sleeping situations, lighting arrangements, types of beddings, ventilation, and pillows.

For the record: I’ll agree that the  inclusion of improvement to one’s beddings as an integral part of the process of Teshuva/perfection of self and life and values which is at the core of these days of awe and this Prepent  journey is a bit out there and perhaps even insensitive to many. There are far too many people on roads tonight, homeless and refugees, lost or in transit, with no pillow or roof to call home.

The fact is, that in  many ways and for many different reasons, many of us at this time or other struggle with sleep. And we don’t often pause to consider all the factors and what we can do about at least some of them. Rituals and prayers and lullabies and good tips for sleep have been accumulating for centuries in all traditions and religions. This 5 tips for good sleep animated video is just one among the latest.

Prepent 14 is written at night for a change, now that shabbat is over,  and that is probably why I’m thinking about sleep mode and  practical ways to improve it.

One small change I can make it pillows. I’m pretty sure I’ll  sleep better with a firmer pillow, just one,  and the ones I have on my bed here, I now realize,  are old and need to be replaced. I’ll do it tomorrow. Pillows matter. This too, I just remembered, I had learned that from Uncle Jack.

I recall it is told of him, that when he’d travel a lot for work all over the world for many years, would always travel with his own pillow and linen pillow case. This was usually told with an eye roll, as I recall, from family gossip way back in the 80’s – and I don’t know how true and how often it happened but now I get it.  He’s got a point. We need a good night’s sleep to function at our best and it takes a lot of factors. Maybe Uncle Jack needed just the right pillow. Capricious privilege but practical and wise? ( I have no clue if it worked for him or not and I’m not about to ask.)

The point is – what’s the best that I can do to get the quality of sleep I need?  and can it start as simple as rearranging pillows or upgrading them and pausing to inspect what else can be done so that we sleep better.  Here’s another tool I found-  10 Tips For Better Sleep  version. Whatever works. 

good night.

PREPENT DAY 13: Smuggled cheese, new gun laws, sex work reform and other legal questions for shabbat.
PREPENT DAY 15: Tea, Leather, Journal, Silence: How to start a day and upgrade good morning to great.