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Slearning: The Universal Yet Uniquely Jewish Art of Dozing Off with a Sefer on Shabbos

Updated: Sep 10, 2023


We all know the scenario. Shabbos afternoon arrives, and with the best of intentions, you pick up a sefer, fully geared to delve into its wisdom. You find your spot on the couch, open to the first page, and before you can say "Zogt The Heiligeh Mishna" you're fast asleep. Welcome to the world of "slearning"—that hybrid of learning and sleeping that feels almost like a minhag among many of us.

A man asleep on a couch with a book covering his face, embodying the concept of 'slearning'—the blend of Shabbos rest and Torah study.
Capturing the essence of 'slearning': When the spirit is willing, but the eyes just can't stay open.

The Importance of Learning on Shabbos

Shabbos isn't just a time for menuchah (rest); it's a time for ruchniyus (spiritual) growth. Engaging with a sefer is more than just a meritorious act; it's part and parcel of the day's avodah (spiritual work), an opportunity to connect deeply with Hashem and, our mesorah (tradition).

After the Shabbos Feast

Let's be honest; after the Shabbos meal, complete with kugel and cholent (after already haven eaten at the Shul's gala kiddush), staying awake is a feat. The atmosphere of Shabbos, cozy and calming, often proves to be an irresistible invitation to nap.

Why the Sefer?

So why even take the time to bring a sefer to your Shabbos couch? The answer is multi-layered. There's the genuine intent for Torah study, and holding the sefer serves as a gashmiyusdike (physical) expression of your ruchniyusdike (spiritual) aspirations. And yes, there's also a communal expectation that places value on limud (learning), making the act of bringing a sefer an almost tangible commitment to elevate the day.

The Maalos (Advantages) of Slearning

While you might not even start that sugya (Talmudic section) or shtikel you were aiming for, "slearning" has its own merits. After all, rest is also a form of oneg Shabbos (Sabbath delight). And perhaps, just maybe, the wisdom of the sefer finds a way to seep into your neshama (soul) even as you doze.


"Slearning" may not be the ideal for fulfilling the mitzvah of Talmud Torah, but it offers a blend of menuchah and ruchniyus that's hard to beat. So if you find yourself "slearning" this Shabbos, don't fret. After all, isn't the true beauty of Shabbos found in these small, imperfect, yet wholly human moments?



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