05 January 2006

My Interest In Sleep In Judaism

My interest in sleep in Judaism (although I would like to say "Jewish tradition" instead of "Judaism", Jewish tradition not only sounds kind of fluffy, but I'm also not sure about certain things being transmitted so fluidly (as Biblical things may be left by the side of the road in favor of rabbinic ways)) arose out of my trying to figure out the tension in my life between trying to stay up and accomplishing more things within my waking hours and between not being sleepy/tired, thereby resulting in a decreased ability to function, especially in a mental compacity. So, I turned to the oldest, and most foundational, of our Jewish texts - the Bible (תנ"ך).
So, the summer prior to my senior semester, I searched through the Bible for statements on sleep, but more specifically, on ethics on sleep. So, during that semester, I put together a paper on sleep, which just got published last week in the Jewish Bible Quarterly (volume 34, issue 1, Jan.-March 2006), entitled "In Your Lying Down and In Your Rising Up: A Biblical Sleep Ethic" (pp. 47-50). Unfortunately, the paper hearkens back to a more unsophisticated perspective, so it kind of sucks. Nevertheless, it's good to pick up to get a basic sense of the topic on Biblical sleep ethics.
Anyways, so I then began, last year, to look at rabbinic attitudes on sleep. Now, I have a paper that I have to rework a bit, but it will be published in my school's journal in the summer on Talmudic sleep ethics. I have a paper that is all but typed on Ben Sira's view on sleep (if you think it goes against Rabbi Akiva's dictum in the beginning of the mishna in the tenth chapter of Sanhedrin, see the gemarra ad. loc. for Abayye's strong defense of reading the work by quoting it; additionally, the Yerushalmi also ponders not reading Ben Sira, but then it says not to seriously (להגיון ניתנו, ליגיעה לא ניתנו)), another that is mostly researched on Tannaitic views on sleep, and a paper in the works on Philo's view on sleep, though I haven't finished flipping through his works yet (I'm about half way through it, but just flipping - though it'd be really cool to say that I've read through all of his works). I may additionally write on Rambam and sleep, though I don't know how much material is out there for a paper on it.
So, I hope that explains my interest in sleep in the "Jewish tradition". :)

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