Wednesday nights - Rav Benzion's Tanya shiur..........Please continue to daven for the good health of the Rebbe (Yechiel Michel ben Devorah Leah) and Rebbetzin (Feiga bas Sarah).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Minhagim: Waking Up in the Morning

Every day there is a chabura who learns Shulchan Aruch HaRav for a hour before mincha (everyone is welcome, by the way). We are holding in Siman Vav which deals with the laws of the berachos of Al Netilas Yadayim, Asher Yatzar and Elokai Neshamah. Yesterday, the Rebbe came a few minutes early to mincha and sat down next to us. Upon hearing what we were learning, he mentioned the tradition from the Rebbe Reb Zisha not to put one's feet on the floor in the morning before washing negel vasser. He explained that the pasuk in Tehilim says, "התיצב על דרך לא טוב רע לא ימאס", "He set himself on a path that was not good, he will not be disgusted by evil." Reb Zisha said that one who stands up while still tamei in the morning is giving room for the yetzer hara to have a hold on himself, and during the day he will find it more difficult to "be disgusted by evil" and make the right choices. The Rebbe's tone of voice left no doubt that we are all strongly encouraged to follow this custom.

This short exchange reminded me that I haven't posted any minhagim in a while. So, here are some minhagim for waking up in the morning. Most of them are not unique to Hornosteipel per say, and many are not specifically even chassidish, but I am including any minhagim that the Rebbe, shlit"a, follows. In general, in Hornosteipel they paskened, where minhag does not differ, like the Shulchan Aruch HaRav (of the Baal Hatanya). Hence, in the minimal sources that I am giving, I rely mostly on the Sh"A Harav even though most of these minhagim and halachos have sources in much earlier seforim.

1) Kabbalistically, it is very important that one does not walk four amos (6-8 feet) before washing negel vasser. According to Chassidus it appears that one should not even place his feet on the floor before washing negel vasser. (Tradition from the Rebbe Reb Zisha, see above, quoted in Agra D'Pirka and others). Therefore, before going to sleep at night, one should prepare water to wash negel vasser by his bed.

2) It is imperative to train oneself that the first thoughts, speech and actions of the day be harnessed for kedusha. By saying Modeh Ani first thing in the morning (Sh"A Harav, First Edition, 1:5, and Second Edition, 1:6) and washing negel vasser before even putting your feet down, a person can ensure his first Speech and Action are under the banner of kedusha. See the ongoing Seder Hayom series for an in depth analysis of what the sifrei Chassidus, and specifically Hornosteipel, say about the first thoughts of the day.

3) One does not recite "al netilas yadayim" after washing negel vasser. Instead one should wash his hands after relieving himself and then recite both Al Netilas Yadayim and Asher Yatzar (Sh"A Harav 6:1, 5). The Rebbe, shlit"a said that he is generally noheg like this, reciting both berachos and Elokai Neshama (see #4) at home. (The implication from the kabbalistically inclined halacha seforim is that the berachah of "al netilas yadayim" should be recited as close to negel vasser as possible as the berachah is the final blow in removing the impure spirit from the hands, instead of later in shul. At the same time, however, the Baal Hatanya explicitly states that it is better not to recite the berachah of "al netilas yadayim" until after using the restroom, especially if one feels the need to relieve himself.)

4) The berachah of Elokai Neshama should be recited immediately following Asher Yatzar (Sh"A Harav 6:7, also the order printed in Tefilah Yesharah).

5) Obviously, one who is obligated to immerse in a mikveh before reciting words of prayer or Torah should not recite those three berachos at home, rather after he washes his hands after coming out of the mikveh.

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db said...

For #5, by chassidus, who is specifically "obligated" to go to the mikvah? While we are on the topic what is the source that we go to the mikvah every morning? Is this a minhag or is this from the Sh"A Harav?

Damesek said...

Referred to Takanas Ezra, anyone who is rendered "tamei" by engaging in marital relations or if they experienced a "nocturnal emission" would be required to immerse in a mikveh before davening or learning. Without getting into too many sources about this, it is brought in the Gemara and Rishonim. Even though Takanas Ezra was technically nullified as a halachic requirement, there were and are many who continued to be careful about this. From a kabbalistic and/or chassidic standpoint it is of the utmost importance to daven and learn in a state of kedusha. Interestingly, many Litvishe gedolim spoke out about the importance of adhering to the guidelines of Takanas Ezra even though it is not required today as a halacha.

Most chasidim have the custom to go to mikveh every day. It is not a halacha by any means, nor is it brought from the Ari Hakadosh or Zohar.

As far as "Hornosteipel" sources are concerned, the Maor Einayim (in his Hanhagos Yesharos) says to go to mikveh before davening. The implication is every day, regardless of whether one is tamei or not.

In Likutei Torah (Ki Savo) and Maamorim Haketzorim (pg. 482), the Baal Hatanya counts mikveh as one of three preparations for tefila.

In the Siddur Radvil (Tefila Yeshara): "Be very mindful to immerse every day in a kosher mikveh, for there is nothing that illuminates and purifies the soul, and that helps in attainment, as the purity of immerding [in a mikveh]. One should be careful about this at all times, all the more so when he is required to do so because he became tamei through marital relations or a nocturnal emission, G-d forbid".

In Pele Yoetz (Chayei Sarah), the Rebbe Reb Motele speaks very highly of mikveh before davening as a means of cleansing the mind and thoughts of a person.

Hope that helps a little. Anyone else have what to add?

A Simple Jew said...

Thank you very much for this posting. I started this practice after reading this posting. Could you please let me know where the soure in Agra D'Kallah is?

Damesek said...


I apologize for taking so long to respond but have been driving from Milwaukee to New York these past two days and didn't have any computer access.

A pleasure and an honor to "hear" from you. I have read your blog on and off since sometime in 2004 if I recall correctly.

I checked back at my notes and it seems that I made a mistake. The source is Igrah D'Pirka Remez 9.

A Simple Jew said...

I appreciate the reference. Thank you.

Keep up the great work with this blog!!