“I have set the Lord always before me.” This is a cardinal principle in the Torah and (a fundamental rule) of life among the pious who go before G-d. Because it is not how a person sits, moves and works when he is alone at home but how he sits, moves and works when he is in the presence of a great king. Similarly, neither his conversation, nor his attitude, when he is among his family and friends, like when he is in the presence of royalty. For then he will certainly take care on his behaviour and his speech that they will be suitably correct. How much more should a man watch himself, because the Great King, the Holy One, blessed be He, whose glory fills all the earth, is standing over him and observing his actions, as it is said: “Can a man hide himself in secret places that I cannot see him?” says the Lord, “Do I not fill heaven and earth?”, he will certainly immediately acquire a feeling of reverence and submission from fear of the Blessed Name and he will be ashamed [to do wrong].
…And when he lies down on his bed at night as well, he should know before Whom he lies. And immediately upon waking from his sleep he should remember the kindnesses that God, blessed be His Name, has done with him, as He returned his soul to him which he entrusted to him in a tired state, as new and calm in order to perform the service of God, blessed be His Name, with all of his ability and to serve him the entire day. For this is the entire purpose of man, as Scripture has stated, “New [souls] in the mornings, how great is Your faithfulness!”. The explanation being that each morning man is made into a new creation. He should therefore thank God, blessed be His Name, with all his capabilities for this. And while he is still lying on his bed, he should say “I thank You, O Living and Eternal King, for you have returned my soul to me with compassion; great is your faithfulness!” And even though his hands are still not clean, he can say this, since it does not include God’s Name. He should also pause briefly between the word “with compassion” and the word “great”.
“Yehudah Ben Teima said: Be strong like the leopard, light like the vulture, quick like the gazelle, and mighty like the lion to perform the will of your Father in Heaven'” (Avot 5:20). “Strong like the leopard” means that one must not be ashamed by people who mock his service of the Lord, blessed be His Name. “Light like the vulture” refers to sight of the eyes. That is, is should be easy to shut your eyes against evil, for that is the beginning of sin–the eye sees, the heart desires, and the actions finish the deed. “Quick like the gazelle” refers to the legs, that your legs should run toward good. And “mighty like a lion” refers to the heart, for strength in the service of the Creator, blessed be His Name, resides in the heart. He [Yehudah son of Teima] means that you must strengthen your heart in the service [of the Lord] and overcome your desire to defeat it, as a hero who overcomes his enemy to defeat him and throw him to the ground.
Therefore a person must make himself mighty like a lion, and immediately after he wakes from his sleep and says “I thank,” he must rise quickly to perform the service of the Creator, blessed and exalted is He, before the evil desire may overcome him with reasons and excuses not to rise. But it will become clever and catch him in the winter–how will you rise now early in the morning when the cold is so great? And in the summer it will catch him–how will you rise from your bed when you have not yet slept your fill? Or it will use other similar reasons. For the evil desire knows well how to ensnare people in not rising. And therefore anyone who fears and trembles before the word of God must overcome it and pay heed. And even if it is difficult for him because of the sluggishness of the body and his laziness, he must make his purpose the will of the King who is king of kings, the Holy One Blessed is He. And he should imagine as though someone was calling him to do business from which he would profit, or to collect his debt, or he was calling him to save him from losing his property, for instance if there were a fire in the city or the like–certainly he would be quick to rise immediately because of his love for his property, and he would not be negligent, lest something befall him or to find favor in the eyes of the king. How much more some for the service of the King who is king of kings, the Holy One Blessed is He, should he be careful to rise quickly?! And one who accustoms himself to this four or five times, it will not be difficult for him afterward. And “if he comes to purify himself, he is helped.”
If it is possible for him to arise early at midnight to perform the midnight service, how great is this, as it is said, “Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches” (Lamentations 2:19). He is like the Holy One Blessed is He, who laments at this time, as it is said, “The LORD doth roar from on high, and utter His voice from His holy habitation; He doth mightily roar because of His fold” (Jeremiah 25:30), and He says, “Woe to the children, on account of whose sins I destroyed My house and burnt My temple and exiled them among the nations of the world” (Berachot 3a). And if it is not possible for him to arise at midnight, he should anyhow strengthen himself to arise before dawn. This is like what King David said, “I will awake the dawn” (Psalms 57:9)–I wake the dawn, but the dawn does not awake me. Even after midnight, he may perform the midnight service, and afterward busy himself with Torah study, each man according to his ability. And the study of Mishnah precedes all else.
Add English for Se’if 6
Chapters of Psalms and portions of Torah, Prophets, and Writings which are normally not said by heart, even one who does know them by heart should be careful not to say them by heart. A blind man is allowed.