“Sleeping in Shul” by Rabbi Wolpe

By Rabbi David Wolpe

A Professor, said Bergen Evans, is one who speaks in other people’s sleep. Anyone who has taught knows how difficult it is to keep the attention of students. Perhaps we can take some comfort in the report of the Midrash that Rabbi Akiva once noticed his students were falling asleep in his class. If one can fall asleep on Rabbi Akiva, who are we to complain?

Every rabbi has had the same experience in synagogue. You are on fire with your eloquence only to see the guy in the third row gently snoring while being poked by his embarrassed wife. You comfort yourself by imagining that he probably works late, or the kids kept him up, or perhaps he suffers from narcolepsy. What we Rabbis generally do not imagine is that our droning is soporific.

And what if you are the sleeper? Surely that is even more uncomfortable than being the preacher whose words do not rouse the congregation. May I suggest you take the insouciant attitude of the great Winston Churchill. As Savior of the free world he felt himself entitled to grab a little shuteye in the House of Commons. When a fellow MP approached him and said “Must you fall asleep when I am speaking?” Churchill answered, “No, it is purely voluntary.”

About Rabbi Wolpe

Rabbi David Wolpe
Named the #1 Rabbi in America by Newsweek magazine, David Wolpe is the Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California. Previously he taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York, The American Jewish University in Los Angeles, Hunter College, and he currently teaches at UCLA. Rabbi Wolpe writes for many publications, including regular columns for the New York Jewish Week, beliefnet.com, as well as periodic contributions to the Jerusalem Post, The Los Angeles Times, and many others. He is an ethics columnist for Campaigns and Elections Magazine and a monthly book columnist for L.A. Jewish Journal. He has been on television numerous times, featured in series on PBS, A&E, as well as serving as a commentator on CNN and CBS This Morning. Rabbi Wolpe is the author of seven books, including the national bestseller Making Loss Matter: Creating Meaning in Difficult Times. Rabbi Wolpe has a new book now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and bookstores near you entitled Why Faith Matters, a personal faith journey and response to the new atheists.

You can read more from Rabbi Wolpe here

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