Sunday, March 26, 2017

Some Guidance From The Yetzer Hara For Pesach Preparations

By The Yetzer Hara

1] Be really nervous and anxious. Remember - there are thousands of halachos to be concerned about and you are bound to break some of them. 

2] Scream at your kids. They need to know the gravity and seriousness of Pesach. 

3] Don't just clean for chometz. Clean for all dirt. Who knows - maybe this speck of dirt was once chametz!!

4] Don't help your wife. This is HER mitzva. Tell her that! Don't get cleaning help. How can we let a Spanish goya have the zchus of this mitzva.

5] On Erev Pesach make sure your children starve. This way they will enjoy the food at the seder more. 

6] Get as little as sleep as possible. This way your will have harried nerves and לפום צערא אגרא. More reward for you!!

7] Keep reminding yourself that Hashem took us out of Egypt so that we can suffer from acute anxiety and tension for a month a year preparing for Pesach. 

8] If your neighbors are going away for Pesach to a fancy hotel then you must follow suit - even if you can't afford it. What will they think of you if you stay home??!

9] Whenever there are various halachic opinions always follow the most stringent one - even if it will drive you, your spouse or your children crazy. Hashem wants you to go crazy.

10] If someone brings chometz into a room you already cleaned then call the police, hatzala and the fire department. 

Why Is It So Hard To Daven?

R' Yoni Lavie

The congregation had already started to sing “Lecha Dodi” on Friday night when the door of the synagogue burst open and he stood there. He was a boy of about 15, wearing a colored striped shirt and flaunting a head of hair that had not seen a barber in a very long time. He passed by the shelves lined with siddurim without taking any one of them into his hands, and continued at a steady pace to the middle row of seats. He sat down heavily next to his father, who hastily handed him a hefty pile of colorful "parsha sheets", while making sure to keep a few for himself. “I managed to pick up all the sheets that you like.”

The Root of the Problem

The growing tide of parsha sheets that washes through our synagogues and serves for many of the people as an interesting occupation and a good way to while away the time spent in the synagogue is not the problem. It is merely a symptom of the problem. The root of the problem is that the alternative – that is, to sit and pray – simply does not interest the people. Many youths and adults find it very hard to get close to the prayers, to have the proper intentions, and to see this as a focus of our service to G-d and a source for enhanced spirituality.

This was also true two thousand years ago, and it is not in vain that the sages called prayer “labor of the heart” – a matter which requires labor in order to accomplish the goal. However, the matter has gained greatly in importance today, in a generation which is so strongly attached to the world of media and of social networks that prayer seems to it to be no more than a bland and boring shadow. One of the greatest difficulties that parents and educators encounter with respect to the children is this subject of prayers. In order to cope with the problems in a proper way, it is important to realize that the youths are not trying to fool us. Prayer is indeed a very challenging and difficult matter, and if we can manage to define the main focus of the difficulty, perhaps this will give us an opening to the way to cope. Perhaps we can even discover some valuable gifts that proper prayer can give us but which usually remain hidden beneath the known difficulties.

The Pitfalls along the Way (A Partial List)

(1) So, what’s new? – We live in a generation that is addicted to innovation and is full of record-holding channel-hoppers. To repeat the same words three times a day, hundreds of times a year, is something that we find hard to do.

(2) Who wrote these words? – Prayer is a personal and intimate contact between a person and his G-d. But instead of being able to speak freely and authentically, from the heart, we are instructed from the outside to recite words and appeals which were composed thousands of years ago. This makes for obvious difficulties.

(3) Plural or singular? – Large sections of the prayers are in the plural, and this makes it difficult for one who wants to express and represent his or her personal needs. “Who am I, a representative of Yisrael in the United Nations? I have enough trouble managing for myself...”

(4) “Excuse me, just what does this mean?” – It is true that the words of the prayers are in Hebrew, but many of the sentences do not make sense to us, even those of us whose native tongue is Hebrew. Here is a verse from the daily prayer for Wednesday: “Shall the seat of iniquity, which frames mischief by law, have fellowship with you?” [Tehillim 94:20]. Can somebody explain this to me?

(5) “Who cares about all this, anyway? ” – Much of the prayers involve general and future subjects (ingathering of the exiles, Mashiach, and so on), which are far removed from the burning needs of most of the people (such as problems of health, money, studies, and so on). It is hard for people to make requests about matters that don’t seem directly relevant to them here and now.

(6) “Talk to the wall...” – It is not easy to keep on speaking when you don’t see any sign of a response from the object of your speech. When we are in a phone conversation and there is a pause when the other side is quiet for too long, we stop and reach out: “Hey, are you still there?” This is just to make sure that the connection wasn’t cut off. In prayer we do all the talking, without any feedback from the other side, which would help us make sure that somebody is listening after all.

(7) Problems of faith – Many weighty questions pertaining to faith can be heard from young people and adults with respect to prayer. How does it work, anyway? Do our prayers somehow modify the will of G-d? Can it really be that He made a decree about us and then, because we applied “pressure” or “got on His nerves” He changed His mind and cancelled the decree? And what about all the respectful titles of G-d that fill the prayers, isn’t that a bit too much flattery? And what about all those heart-felt prayers that came out of us spontaneously in the past that we feel the Holy One, Blessed be He, rejected at the time, without any positive result at all?

(8) A high threshold of stimulation – We live in a generation which is used to very strong emotions. Our movies are filled with action and drama, we watch amazing and exciting musical video clips. If we just sit in front of a book with straight lines and printed words, we feel bored and insulted.

(9) Distractions – In this world of multi-texting, when we are always glued to a cellular phone that vibrates, it is very hard to concentrate on one thing and to silence all the noise and distractions that attack us all the time.

(10) The internet culture – In the microwave world, where 30 seconds is enough to achieve so much, we find it hard to make an investment in things that require an effort. But quality prayer demands of us an investment in energy and in diligence.

(11) “Wow, I haven’t seen you in a long time!” – Quite often, the time for prayer gives us an opportunity to renew old relationships after a very long time when we have not met our friends. This is true for the morning prayers of students who have not seen each other since yesterday, and even more so for Friday night prayers of adults who have not seen each other for a whole week. The temptation to share our feelings is great indeed.

Problems and Treasures

The long list above has not been presented in order to make our prayers even harder to do than they were before. Rather, its purpose is to get a better understanding of the challenges which we encounter. We should note, however, that almost every one of the above items can open up a pathway that leads to a great gift, a habit, or an important spiritual trait that prayer can teach us to appreciate. Can you see what I mean? Can you identify many treasures that lie behind all of the above problems with prayer?

Redemption Prayer And Talmud Torah - Part 2

Rav Soloveitchik

The Zohar Hakadosh says:

And Moses spoke before the Lord, saying: "Behold, the children of Israel have not harkened unto me, how then shall Pharaoh hear me, who am of uncircumcised lips?" How did Moses dare say this? Had not the Holy One already promised him, when he said that he was not eloquent, that He "will be with his mouth" (Exodus 4, 10-12)? Or did the Holy One not keep His promise? However, there is here an inner meaning. Moses was then in the grade of "Voice," and the grade of "Utterance" was then in exile. Hence he said, "How shall Pharaoh hear me, seeing that my 'utterance' is in bondage to him, I being only 'voice,' and lacking 'utterance.'" Therefore God joined with him Aaron, who was "utterance" without "voice." When Moses came, the Voice appeared, but it was "a voice without speech." This lasted until Israel approached Mount Sinai to receive the Torah. Then the Voice was united with the Utterance, and the word was spoken, as it says, "and the Lord spake all these words" (Exodus 20, 1). Then Moses was in full possession. of the Word, Voice and Word being united. That was the cause of Moses' complaint (v. 23), that he lacked the word save at the time when it broke forth in complaint and "God spoke to Moses."

The text divides the process of redemption in three stages. First it identifies bondage with the absence of both word and meaningful sound, with total silence. Then redemption begins with finding sound while the word is still absent. Finally, with the finding of both sound and word, redemption attains it full realization. Before Moses came there was not even a single sound. No complaint was lodged, no sigh, no cry uttered. Only an agonizing un-human shriek would penetrate the weird silence of the night. The slaves were gloomy, voiceless and mute. The women did not cry when their infants were snatched from their arms; the men kept quiet when they were mercilessly tortured by the slave drivers. Torture was taken for granted. They thought this was the way it had to be. The pain did not precipitate suffering. They were unaware of any need. When Moses came, the sound, or the voice, came into being כי אתא משה אתא קול. Moses, by defending the helpless Jew, restored sensitivity to the dull slaves. Suddenly they realized that all that pain, anguish, humilation and cruelty, all the greed and intolerance of man vis-à-vis his feIlow man is evil. This realization brought in its wake not only sharp pain but a sense of suffering as well. With suffering came loud protest, the cry, the unuttered question, the wordless demand for justice and retribution. In short, the dead silence of non-existence was gone; the voice of human existence was now heard.

"And it came to pass in the course of the many days that the king of Egypt died and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage and they cried and their cry came up unto God".

Why hadn't they cried before Moses acted? Why were they silent during the many years of slavery that preceded Moses' appearance? They had lacked the need-awareness, and experienced no need, whether for freedom, for dignity, or for painless existence. They did not rebel against reality; they lacked the tension that engenders suffering and distress. The voice was restored to them at the very instant they discovered, emotionally, their need awareness and became sensitive to pain in a human fashion. Moses' protest precipitated this change.

Even Moses, the Zohar emphasizes, who helped the people move from the silent periphery to the great center, did not acquire the word until he and the people reached Mount Sinai. Although Moses had the existential awareness of need, he had not as yet discovered the logos of need [Logos, ( Greek: “word,” “reason,” or “plan”) plural logoi, in Greek philosophy and theology, the divine reason implicit in the cosmos, ordering it and giving it form and meaning] which would, in turn, have endowed him with the charisma of speech. When the Almighty advised him that he had been chosen to be the redeemer of the people, Moses argued and was reluctant to accept the mission because the word was not, as yet, given to him; therefore, he was ערל שפתיים (slow of speech). Surely Moses had protested; he had killed the tyrant, rebuked the wicked Jew, etc. What he lacked was the logical understanding of the teleology [A philosophy of teleology sees purpose in ends rather than stated causes, making the outcome the actual, or "final" cause. When you see things in terms of teleology, you explain actions by their results] of the גלות experience, as well as the firm faith in the destiny of the slave-community. He did not believe that those slaves would ever be liberated. Hence, while Moses, and with him the whole community, had already broken out of their silence, they had yet to find the word. Only at Sinai was the logos, both as word and as knowledge, revealed to him. He .finally understood the covenantal past, beheld the vision of a great future whose realization was dependent upon him. 

This story is indicative, not only of the political slave of antiquity, but of slavery today, as well. Slavery is not only a juridic-economic institution of the past; it is also a way of life which is still a reality. The' unfree man differs, existentially, from the free man: one may, existentially, be a slave in the midst of political and economic freedoms. To use Biblical term terminology, slavery constitutes a תהו ובהו existence. What does the existential slave look like? How does existential tohu va-vohu express itself in daily life? 

There are two basic characteristics of which we may avail ourselves in identifying the slavish תהו ובהו existence in every era: 1) Anonymity; 2) Ignorance. How does the anonymity of man express itself? In the tragic reality of being forgotten. The history of mankind is the history of countless millons of forgotten, nameless people, who have vanished into nothingness, along with their gravemarks (if any). Men come and go, like Peretz's Bontsche Schweig, without leaving a trace or making a mark. ["Bontche Schweig's death made no impression whatsoever. No one knew who Bontche was. Bontche lived mutely and died quietly. Like a silent shadow did he pass through our world. At Bontche's circumcision no toasts were raised, no glasses were clinked. At his Bar Mitzvah no rousing speech was delivered. He lived in anonymity like a grey minute grain of sand on the beach of a stormy sea, among milions of identical sand particles . . . no one noticed that one of the particles was picked up by the storm and carried across the sea."]   The anonymity which envelops man is part of the curse God imposed upon Adam. Man experiences his anonymity as a great loneliness. If this is true of man in the past, it is certainly true of modern man. Urban life has contributed greatly to the anonymity and loneliness-experience of the individual. When Kohelet said: "For he comes in darkness and departs in darkness and his name is covered in darkness." - he referred not only to the unknown timid soul, to the poor and meek, but to everybody: the great ruler, the daring warrior, the captain of industry and the famous orator. All of these people live in anonymity and darkness and are existentially peripheral, mute beings. All of us, no matter how popular, are people whose destiny consists in being forgotten.

Saturday, March 25, 2017


Simply AMAZING!!

A Puzzling Rashi

לרפואת ר' יהושע מאיר בן רחל שרה 
נעמי בת טובה

On the pasuk in Parshas Bo "'ואכלתם אותו בחיפזון פסח הוא לה" Rashi writes:

 "פסח הוא לה' – הקרבן קרוי פסח על שם הדלוג והפסיחה שהקב"ה היה מדלג בתי ישראל מבין בתי מצרים וקופץ ממצרי למצרי, וישראל אמצעי נמלט, ואתם עשו כל עבודותיו לשם שמים דרך דילוג וקפיצה זכר לשמו שקרוי פסח, גם פשק"א [שמו של הפסח בלועזית] לשון פסיעה".

it is a Passover sacrifice to the Lord: Heb. פֶּסַח. The sacrifice is called פֶּסַח because of the skipping and the jumping over, which the Holy One, blessed be He, skipped over the Jews’ houses that were between the Egyptians houses. He jumped from one Egyptian to another Egyptian, and the Jew in between was saved. [“To the Lord” thus implies] you shall perform all the components of its service in the name of Heaven in the manner of skipping and jumping, [i.e., in haste] in commemoration of its name, which is called Passover (פֶּסַח), and also [in old French] pasca, an expression of striding over.

This Rashi raised considerable difficulties for the commentators.

What is the connection between performing the sevice for the sake of Heaven and doing it while skipping and jumping? What does it mean to perform the service while skipping and jumping? The Mechilta, which is the source of Rashi, only mentions that the avoda should be לשם שמים and Rashi throws in the idea that it must be done while skipping and jumping. Why would Rashi diverge from the Chazal he is ostensibly quoting??

Here is an article from the newspaper in Israel called Hamevaser which presents various manuscripts and attempts to verify the correct text:
פסח הוא לה'.

על הפסוק "ואכלתם אותו בחיפזון פסח הוא לה" (יב,יא) כותב רש"י כך: "פסח הוא לה' – הקרבן קרוי פסח על שם הדלוג והפסיחה שהקב"ה היה מדלג בתי ישראל מבין בתי מצרים וקופץ ממצרי למצרי, וישראל אמצעי נמלט, ואתם עשו כל עבודותיו לשם שמים דרך דילוג וקפיצה זכר לשמו שקרוי פסח, גם פשק"א [שמו של הפסח בלועזית] לשון פסיעה". זה הנוסח בחומשים הנפוצים.

המשפט "ואתם עשו כל עבודותיו לשם שמים דרך דילוג וקפיצה" נראה תמוה: מה עניין ה'לשם שמים' כאן? הלא העניין הוא לעשותו דרך דילוג וקפיצה זכר לשמו שקרוי פסח.

עיון ב"שפתי חכמים" יבהיר לנו שבמהדורות קודמות היה כתוב "ואתם עשו כל עבודותיו לשם שמים, דבר אחר – דרך דילוג וקפיצה" אלא שמהרש"ל מחק מילים אלו. ואכן, במהדורות ישנות כמו דפוס ונציה (רפ"ה) מופיעות המלים "דבר אחר", במהדורות מאוחרות יותר. כמו "רב פנינים", כבר הסגירו מלים אלו בסוגריים, ובמהדורות מאוחרות עוד יותר, כגון "לוין אפשטיין" או המהדורה הנפוצה של בלום, כבר מחקו מלים אלו לגמר. [יש לציין שבמהדורת "המאור" החזירו את ה"דבר אחר" בסוגריים מרובעות. וכן בחומש "כליל תפארת" של ר' יוסף שלום וינפלד].

מדוע מחק מהרש"ל מלים אלו? מובן למדי. שכן אם נאמר שיש כאן פירוש נוסף, יווצר כאן קושי: רש"י כותב בתחילת דבריו "הקרבן קרוי פסח על שם הדלוג והפסיחה", מה נוסף כאן אפוא ב"דבר אחר דרך דילוג וקפיצה זכר לשמו שקרוי פסח, הלא זהו לכאורה מה שכתב רש"י לעיל? לכן לכאורה העדיף מהרש"ל למחוק את המילים "דבר אחר" ולגרוס "ואתם עשו כל עבודותיו לשם שמים דרך דילוג וקפיצה", אמנם הלשון הזה גם כן מוקשה מאוד וטעון ביאור.
אם נטפס אחורה במעלה המהדורות וכתבי היד, נגלה שדיבור רש"י הזה מופיע בשני נוסחאות, האחד מהם, כפי שמפיע למשל בדפוס ספרדי מן העיר אישאר בשנת ר"ן.

"פסח הוא לה' – הקרבן קרוי פסח על שם הפסיחה או על שם הדילוג. ועשו כל עבודתו דלר דילוג וקפיצה, זכר לשמו הקרוי פסח. וגם פאשקוואה לשון פציעא הוא".

בכתב יד של רש"י הנמצא באוניברסיטת פרנקפורט יש נוסח מאוד דומה:

"פסח הוא לה'. – הקרבן קרוי פסח על שם הפסיחה או על שם הדילוג. ועשו כל עבודתו דרך דילוג וקפיצה, זכר לשמו הקרוי פסח, וגם פאשקואה לשון פציעא הוא".

בכתב יד של רש"י הנמצא באוניברסיטת פרנקפורט יש נוסח מאוד דומה:

"פסח הוא לה' – הקרבן קרוי פסח על שם הפסיחה או על הדילוג. ואתם עשו כל עבודותיו דרך דילוג ופסיחה, זכר לשמו שקרוי פסח, וגם פשק"א לשון פסיע"ה.

נוסח אחר נמצא במהד' רג'יו דה קלבריאה משנת רל"ה, הדפוס הראשון אי פעם של רש"י על התורה [וכמעט הספר העברי המודפס הראשון בעולם], ובדומה לזה כתב יד מינכן 5:.

פסח הוא לה' – הקבן קרוי פסח על שם הדילוג והפסיחה [שהקב"ה היה מדלג בתי בני ישראל מבין בתי מצרים וקופץ ממצרי למצרי וישראל אמצאי נמלט], "ואתם עשו כל עבודותיו לשם שמים".

בין שני הנוסחים יש כמה הבדלים, לענייננו החשוב שהם הוא שכתב היד גורס "דרך דילוג ופסיחה" ואינו מזכיר כלל "לשם שמים", ואילו דפוס רג'יו דה קלבריאה גורס "עשו כל עבודותיו לשם שמים" ואינו מזכיר דילוג ופסיחה/ קפיצה כלל.
מבדיקת כתבי יד ודפוסים קדומים נוספים עולה שנוסח רובם ככולם הוא כנוסח כתב היד שהבאנו, כלומר "דרך דילוג וקפיצה", מאימתי מופיע הנוסח המשלב גם את "לשם שמים" כמו בדפוסי ימינו? וכן: מצאתיו לראשונה ב"מקראות גדולות" דפוס ונציה משנת רע"ח.

כעת ניתן לשער כך: לפני המדפיס של דפוס ונציה היו שני הנוסחאות ברש"י שפותחים במלים "ואתם עשו כל עבודותיו לשם שמים", והשני הוא "ואתם עשו כל עבודותיו דרך דילוג וקפיצה". כתב אפוא הדפיס כך: "ואתם עשו כל עבודותיו לשם שמים, דבר אחר [כלומר: נוסח אחר) – דרך דילוג וקפיצה".

כוונתו של המדפיס היתה שנבין שיש כאן שני נוסחאות: 1. ואתם עשו כל עבודותיו לשם שמים: 2. ואתם עשו כל עבודותיו דרך דילוג וקפיצה. אך המילים "דבר אחר" התפרשו, כמקובל, בשני פירושים שרש"י עצמו בא לפרש, וכאילו לשונו של רש"י עצמו לפנינו, מהרש"ל שעינו הבהירה הבחינה בכך, מחק את ה"דבר אחר" שאינו מדברי רש"י כלל, כאמור. אך הנוסח שלפנינו נשאר עמום כי בעצם מעורבים בו שני מקורות.

מנהגם זה של מעתיקים ומדפיסים לכתוב "דבר אחר" במשמע "נוסח אחר" הוא מנהג ידוע, והוא גרם לשיבושים רבים במקומות שונים, מכיון שלשונות אלו התבארו ללומדים כשני פירושים שהביא המחבר בעצו.

וראה בספרי "משונצינו ועד וילנא" פרק א' על "לישנא אחרינא" במסכת בבא בתרא, שאינו אלא "נוסחה אחרינא".

Friday, March 24, 2017

Is Hashem Equally EVERYWHERE?

Rav Chaim of Volozihin in his classic work "Nefesh Hachaim" laments the Chasidic understanding of G-d. They say that Hashem is in EVERYTHING. 

He explains his opposition based on the fact that the Torah is based on good and evil, pure and impure etc. If EVERYTHING is G-dliness then you fudge all distinctions between good and evil. One might even come to think about Torah in dirty places. 

Rav Chaim introduced the concepts of סובב כל עלמין and ממלא כל עלמין. The latter term means that Hashem's presence fills the world. This is correct, says Rav Chaim. He does. But that is only from HIS perspective. From our perspective Hashem is only סובב כל עלמין - He WATCHES over the world but there is a clear demarcation line between good and evil, pure and impure. That means that PRATICALLY SPEAKING, we must view Hashem as סובב and not ממלא.

Hashem is הקדוש ברוך הוא  - Kadosh is נבדל [separate] while Baruch means that He influences the world with his blessing.

In philosophy this is called immanent and transcendent. Hashem is both. From our perspective we view Him as primarily transcendent but the absolute truth is that He is immanent as well.

There is a concept in Kabbalah called קו  and another more well known concept called צמצום   [contraction] The concept of קו  is that there are differeing LEVELS of G-dliness in the world. צמצום  means [according to R' Chaim] that Hashem hides Himself even though He is equally everywhere. It is kefirah [according to Rav Chaim] to believe in the concept of צמצום  according it's simple meaning, that Hashem contracted Himself to make room for the world. How can one say this? Hashem is here, Hashem is there, Hashem is truly everywhere! So צמצום  is Hashem hiding Himself despite His ubiquitous presence. [For all of the above see נפש החיים שער ג].

The only exception is Torah. Torah brings the notion of ממלא כל עלמין  to light [pun intended]. The kedusha of the Torah remains with it's original shine but even there is a צמצום  that took place in order to allow us to perceive it with our limited faculties. Here the צמצום  is for the sake of גילוי – to reveal the G-dliness in the world. But the physical world must be viewed by us as having varying levels of purity and impurity. Thus, one may not think of Torah in filthy places.

Rebbe Tzadok Hakohen explains צמצום differently. According to R' Tzadok, ALL of צמצום was intended to hide in order to reveal. So even our physical world reveals G-dliness.

כי באמת עצם אור ה' גדול מאוד ואי אפשר להיות מושג ללב בני אדם כלל כמו שכתוב "כי לא יראני האדם וחי", וזהו תואר הקב"ה הוראת קדושה בכל מקום הבדלה שהוא נבדל מבני אדם, והיינו אור ה' הנבדל מלבות הישראלי. ולפי שרצה יתברך שמו שישיגו הנבראים מאורו צמצם יתברך הארתו שתהיה מוגבלת ומצומצמת ולא בתוקף וחוזק כל כך והוא כח אור שכינתו יתברך בתוך לבבות בני ישראל.

[דובר צדק עמוד ב]

The upshot is that we have to serve Hashem with all of the physicality of this world because Hashem resides here. We shouldמ't be confused by the illusion of phyiscalty which is just a veil for Hashem and obscufates our vision. Writes Rav Zeev Wolf of Zhitmor [Ohr Hameir p. 184]

כי כלל זה נקוט בידך ואל ימוט מנגד עיניך אפילו כמעט רגע שאין שום דבר בעולם שלא יהיה שם התלבשות השכינה השוכנת בתוכם להחיותם, אל יתן אל לבו לראות גשמיות הדברים כי אם אלקות המלובש וגנוזה לשם.

The pasuk says אנכי עומד בין ה' וביניכם which means that moshe is standing between us and Hashem. But Chasidus teaches that it also means that one's ego, the אנכי, stands between us and Hashem. We have to learn to nullify ourselves [ביטול היש] and thereby find Hashem.

When we say Shema our kavvana is that NOTHING ELSE EXISTS in this world for real, outside our our G-dly neshamos.  

Hamapil On Day Sleep

 Question: Do people who go to sleep before nightfall (e.g., night shift workers, the old and ill during the summer) recite Hamapil before going to sleep?  

Answer: The gemara (Berachot 60b) mentions Hamapil for one “entering to sleep on his bed,” without noting time of day. However, the Rambam (Tefilla 7:1) writes “when one enters his bed to sleep at night.” Despite varied opinions of Rishonim (see Meiri, Berachot ad loc), this guideline is accepted (see Be’ur Halacha to 239:1; B’tzel Hachochma V:166). However, this position’s rationale impacts your question. The above gemara continues with the berachot upon awaking, starting with Elokai Neshama, which some see as a bookend along with Hamapil (see B’tzel Hachochma ibid.). We recite these berachot only once a day. In both cases (although some distinguish), there are questions as to whether the berachot are only for those who sleep or they are general praises to Hashem related to sleep and awaking at the classic times.  Most poskim say that one recites Hamapil only before a serious sleep (see gemara above). The connection to night is that this is the average person’s time of serious sleep, based on which the beracha was instituted (which is apparently the Rambam’s basis). B’tzel Hachochma (ibid.) understands the element of night very formalistically – there is no obligation and thus no ability to say Hamapil before night, even if one is embarking on a full night’s sleep before nightfall. He compares Hamapil before night to a beracha on sitting in a sukka before Sukkot starts when one plans to remain there (a beracha is not made there).  However, there are sources and logic that night is a criterion for Hamapil on practical rather than fundamental grounds. The Chayei Adam (35:4) says that regarding day sleep we are concerned he will not fall asleep, it is improper to sleep, and/or it is not effective sleep. These reasons do not apply to the cases you raise of one who has a valid reason to start sleeping before nightfall (although sometimes we say lo plug- see ibid.). 

Several poskim (see Teshurat Shai I:82; Teshuvot V’hanhagot I:198) explain why it might be proper to recite Hamapil before one’s major sleep after dawn when one did not sleep at night (e.g., Shavuot morning). One could add to the equation the opinion that one may recite a birkat hashevach (of praise) even when there is a doubt whether it is necessary because the content of such berachot are never inappropriate (Halachot Ketanot I:264). However, the consensus is that safek berachot l’hakel (in doubt, refrain) applies to there as well (Yabia Omer VII, OC 29).  However, in cases where the sleep is primarily at night, the argument to say Hamapil is much stronger. Notice that the Rambam (ibid.) talks about Hamapil preceding going to sleep at night. My reading is that the point is that sleep done at night defines it as justifying Hamapil, not that it is forbidden to recite Hamapil during the day. Thus, if the majority of one’s sleep will be during the night, the fact that it begins earlier need not preclude Hamapil.  Whether the case for reciting Hamapil is stronger or not if one goes to sleep soon before nightfall is interesting. Many halachot of night begin at plag hamincha, so perhaps one who sleeps then for the night is considered to be just extending slightly the time of night sleep, which in summer nights in northern latitudes is also common. Note that one who wakes up after midnight may recite the morning berachot including Elokai Neshama (Shulchan Aruch, OC47:13), presumably because morning regarding wake up is flexible. Perhaps the same is true in the evening. On the other hand, perhaps Chazal would not have extended a beracha for going to sleep for the night at a time when one cannot fulfill the mitzva of Kri’at Shema of the night.  The rules of practical p’sak point toward not risking reciting the beracha of Hamapil before nightfall, despite my inclination to the contrary. However, one who does so before his major sleep that extends well into the night has what to rely upon.

[Kollel Eretz Chemdah]