2. Being “Strong as a Lion”

1:3 The mishna in Avos adjures us to be “bold as a leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer and strong as a lion” to do God’s will (5:23). “Bold” means unafraid of what others may think – if they want to laugh, let ‘em! “Light” means that we should close our eyes to things we shouldn’t see because once we see things, we can’t un-see them and they have an effect on our thoughts, desires and actions. “Swift” means that we should move quickly to fulfill our responsibilities and to help others in need. Finally, “strong” means that our hearts should be full of passion to serve God and to defeat urges that might cause us to stray from that goal.

1:4 In order to strengthen ourselves “like a lion,” we should not laze about in bed. Rather, we should arise with vigor to serve God before our baser urges can talk us into sleeping in. There are many excuses one can come up with to stay in bed: “it’s too cold,” “I’m too tired,” etc. The reality is that if properly motivated – such as to catch a flight or make an important meeting – one could get up. If we take our service of God seriously, that should be the best reason of all to get up quickly and with enthusiasm. Yes, it will be hard at first but a person will get used to it soon enough. Furthermore, the Talmud in Yoma (38b) assures us that one who makes an effort to improve himself will receive Divine assistance.