Science in the Torah

A Dangerous Awakening – Rabbi Zamir Cohen

A report made by the ITIM Agency on March 13, 1986, concludes that the highest percentage of heart attacks, strokes, and similar life threatening incidents takes place in the first hour after sleep.

Consider the Talmud’s opinion on this subject (Gittin 70a):

“Five things are closer to death than to life. They are: sleep, standing up [according to Rashi this implies “standing up” immediately after waking, without pause]…”

Based on this, Rabbi Yisrael Meir HaCohen of Radin wrote in his famous halachic work, the Mishnah Berurah (1 note 8 ), that even though a person must rise each morning with vigor to serve God, to fulfill such commandments as tefillin (phylacteries) , the recitation of the kriat shema, and the like, one still must pause a moment upon waking, before leaving bed. This is because standing up immediately can potentially damage a person’s health.

It turns out that the Sages of Israel, who lived more than sixteen hundred years ago, knew what contemporary researchers have discovered only through the use of statistics and scientific research – that there is danger hidden in the first hour after sleep. Furthermore, they knew something that present day researchers have yet to discover – that a key factor in this danger lies in the rapid awakening and rising from bed, whereas getting out of the bed slowly lowers the risks.


Adapted from The Revolution by Rabbi Zamir Cohen

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