Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Chanukah And Prayer At Sunrise

King David said, "Awake up, my glory; awake, lyre and harp; I will rouse the dawn (Psalms 57:9). Rashi explains: "I rouse the dawn and the dawn doesn't rouse me." This was something that distinguished King David from the other kings of his day who would wake up later (see Berachot 4A and Rashi there).

I can't claim to be a student of King David in this respect. More often than not, the rays of the morning sun shining thrugh my bedroom window wake me up. This is really a shame because those early morning hours are perhaps the most beautiful time of day. Back in the days when I still did reserve duty I remember being stationed on the border with Jordan. There, facing East, I would spend the night watch waiting for the morning to come because then my shift would end and another soldier would come to replace me. It was spectacular to see how the sky, ever so slowly, changes from the black of night into the light blue of day, and how the sun rises majestically on the eastern horizon. Only after army service did I understand what is written in Psalms (130:6): "My soul waiteth for the L-rd more then they that watch for the morning..."

I already mentioned that I'm not one who usually rises early. However, the "Chanukah season" is the time of year when sunrise is at its latest (around 6:35), so the prayers start at about 6:10. That means getting up at 5:40, and even Cosmic X can handle that! At this hour most of Jerusalem is still asleep. As I make my way to the synagogue, through the semi-darkness, I see someone else who is on his way to pray. On the other side of the street is a Chassid with a towel draped over his shoulder on the way to the mikve. These are typical early morning scenes in Jerusalem that only early risers witness.

Inside the synagogue I see "the regulars". These are people who are really serious about their worship, and every time that I come to say the prayers at sunrise, they are here. The only things that concern them are "Torah and Tefilah." While many are occupied with thoughts about how they can buy a larger car or get a promotion at work, these men are only concerned with how they can serve G-d better. The Menorah spreads light on the southern side of the synagogue, reminding us of the miracles that the L-rd wrought for the Jewish people. The prayers are said with devotion, with the silent "shemonah esrei" prayer recited just after sunrise. Hallel. The Torah reading. Through the windows of the synagogue I see that the semi-darkness has turned to light. A new day has started, with a new hope for a better world. Perhaps the Mashiach will come today.

As the days get longer, and sunrise becomes earlier and earlier, Cosmic X will not have the strength or determination to say the prayers at sunrise like "vatikin". But these guys, "the regulars", as true students of King David, will continue to "wake up the dawn."


Cosmic X said...

Thanks Batya!

Ittay said...

You quote the beautiful tehillim of David HaMelech “Awake up, my glory; awake, lyre and harp; I will rouse the dawn (Psalms 57:9).” I guees the secular equivalent must be from Shir Lashalom “tnu lashem la’a lot laboker le’hair.” Worlds apart in origin, but similar in their desire that we should determine our own fate rather than leaving it in the hands of others.

Seeing you are a guitarist, You may enjoy a new Australian singer by the name of “lior.” Look for him on the web. He has a great song called “Daniel.”

Cosmic X said...

Shalom Ittay,

I don't think King David was talking about "determining his own fate." He is simply expressing his great desire to praise G-d, so great that he will wake the dawn up with his praises. The entire chapter can be seen on line at .

Bli Nedder I'll check out "lior".

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