Behavior at Night
1. After the evening service, one should establish a fixed time for Torah
study, to fulfill the instruction (Joshua 1:8):"And you shall mediate upon
them day and night."
There is room for fear that if one eats first, he will be overcome by
sleep, for he is tired and it is natural to want to rest. Thus, he will
negate the study of Torah. Hence, it is proper to establish a fixed time
for Torah study before eating. Even a person who is hungry and has little
energy because he did not eat sufficiently during the day should taste only
a little food in order to regain his mental alertness. Then he should study
some, eat a full meal as he requires, and return to the study of Torah.
Each person should study according to his own powers of comprehension.
[Eruvin 65a] teaches: "The nights were created only for the purpose of
Torah study." In particular, this applies to the [long] winter nights.
However, even in the short [summer] nights one should find some time for
study at night to fulfill the instruction" "And you shall meditate upon
them day and night."
From the fifteenth of Av onwards, one should add slightly [to one's torah
study as the nights become longer].
Resh Lakish declared: Whoever studies Torah at night will have a chord of
grace extended over him during the day, as [implied by Psalms 42:9]:
"During the day, G-d will command His grace, and at night, His song is with
me." Why does "G-d command His grace during the day"? because, "at night,
His song [the Torah] is with me."
Others quote Resh Lakish as follows: Whoever studies Torah in this world -
which can be compared to night - will have a chord of grace extended over
him by the Holy One, blessed be He, in the world to come, which can be
compared today, as [implied by the verse]: "During the day, G-d will
command His grace, and at night, His song is with me" (Chaggigah 12b).
Surely, a person who has a fixed measure of Torah study that he usually
completed during the day should compensate at night if he was forced to
negate it during the day.
2. It is proper for an average healthy person to eat only a small meal at
night, less than he eats during the day. There are three benefits to be
reaped from such a practice: a)this protects one's health; b) it produces
pleasant and settled dreams. A person who has eaten and drunk excessively
often has strange and disturbing dreams; c) it will prevent one from
sleeping too heavily and allow one to rise at the proper time.
Six hours of sleep are sufficient for a healthy person. A person should not
sleep alone in a room, nor should one sleep in a place which is overly hot
or overly cold.
3. It is proper for a person who fears G-d to examine all his actions of
the previous day before he goes to sleep. Should he discover that he
committed a sin, he should express his regret, confess, and wholeheartedly
resolve not to commit the sin again. [When undertaking this personal
introspection,] one should pay special attention to sins which are
frequently committed - e.g., flattery, falsehood, mockery, and slander.
Also, a person should forgive any colleague who wronged him, so that on
other person will be punished because of him. The Gemara [Shabbos 149a]
teaches: "A person on whose account a colleague is punished is not allowed
into the domain of the Holy one, blessed be He."
One should repeat three times: " I release all those ho caused me
distress." Afterwards, one should recite the prayer: Ribono shel olom,
hareini mochel... (Master of the world, behold, I forgive...).