I hate winter. I hate the cold and long nights. I hated having school in winter, and dislike having my children in school during winter, the early morning rise and the homework and projects at night. UUUUggghhhh.
While it’s snowing, snow is fine, also if one wants to ski, snow is necessary. Hot chocolate with marshmallow, another plus, and yes fires in the fireplace definitely a plus.
This week, those who learn daf yomi, completed Masechet Makot, only 24 dafim, in contrast to a very long Sanhedrin. But in Sanhedrin, we learn another positive about the long nights of winter.
Sanhedrin 92 Rambam teaches us that we should torah day and night, and that most chochmah/wisdom is learned at night. The positive forces of learning at night is confirmed by the Mishneh brurah and Shulchan Aruch, hilchos Talmud torah. The Shach quotes the Prisha that when nights are longer, more secrets of Torah are revealed.
I believe this is so. People ask me when I get my work done, my law practice, thefivetowns.com, the teaching preparation and of course my family. For years now, I have awakened and wake up at about 3:30am. Between 3:30am-6:30am, I feel all the neshomot/souls are at peace, in their beds and as an estate attorney, I feel the souls in their graves as well. When my family and friends are at peace, I feel at peace as well, and get more writing and work done than what I can accomplish from 9-5, the business workday, when I enjoy interacting with my clients, family and friends.
At the early hour, I listen to my daf yomi podcast from Rabbi Sholom Rosner in Israel. I then process the daf while I dress and prepare for my day. I have rested already. During my sleep, I resolve the key to cases, solve sophisticated issues of law, the writing flows and I succumb to that ease of movement and defiance of gravity feeling, which I feel standing in a lake with water up to my thighs fly fishing. A grace of movement I feel as I slice through the water with a kayak paddle, moving gracefully atop the surface of the water, moving silently but for the swoosh of the parting water. A stillness and a peace with surroundings as one.
Jacques Cousteau dove deep into the dark natural waterways when I was a child. One couldn’t imagine all the activity of life going on in the dark depths. Those who learn Torah will attest to the fact that in these very long dark days of winter, just before the winter solstice, December 21st and the holiday of Chanukkah, the festival of light, the heights of Torah can be reached in an uninterrupted zman/learning season which runs from Sukkoth or the month of Cheshvan, until Passover in April.
Yes, I do enjoy my fire in the fireplace and hocho with marshmallows, but I do enjoy the dark full nights of winter, which are so conducive to learning and attaining new insights and wisdom in Torah.