The person sitting next to me in a shiur falls asleep because he worked hard during the day. What considerations are relevant to whether or not I should wake him?

Assuming I did not wake him and he remains asleep at the end of the shiur. What considerations are now relevant to whether or not I should wake him?

See, for example, Wikipedia “gezel sheina”

In Jewish law, gezel sheina (גזל שנה, theft of sleep) refers to waking up another person against their wishes. The term was first used by rabbi Israel Meir Kagan in his book Ahavas Chesed. No law in the Torah or Talmud directly prohibits disturbing another's sleep. Nevertheless, some rabbis have prohibited or discouraged such behavior as being unkind to others and because it cannot be rectified.


1 Answer 1


Waking a fellow shiur-mate cannot be more severe than waking one's parents.

The Kitzur in סימן קמג - הלכות כבוד אב ואם says the following about waking them:

סעיף ד': הָיוּ אָבִיו אוֹ אִמּוֹ יְשֵׁנִים וּמַפְתֵּחַ חֲנוּתוֹ שֶׁל הַבֵּן תַּחַת רָאשֵׁיהֶם, אָסוּר לַהֲקִיצָם מִשְּׁנָתָם, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיַפְסִיד רֶוַח הַרְבֵּה. אֲבָל אִם יַגִּיעַ רֶוָח לְאָבִיו אִם יְקִיצוֹ, וְאִם לֹא יְקִיצוֹ יִצְטַעֵר עַל מְנִיעַת הָרֶוַח, מִצְוָה לַהֲקִיצוֹ, כֵּיוָן שֶיִשְׂמַח בָּזֶה. וְכֵן מִצְוָה לַהֲקִיצוֹ לָלֶכֶת לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת אוֹ לִשְׁאָר דְּבַר מִצְוָה, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁכֻּלָּם חַיָבִים בִּכְבוֹד הַמָּקוֹם בָּרוּךְ הוּא (חיי"א בשם ספר חסידים). ‏

Essentially, if the person sleeping will be glad to be woken, then it's a Mitzva (of loving your neighbour) to waken him. For example, he does not want to miss out on parts of the shiur.

Also, if he would gain by being woken - for example he won't fall asleep again - then it's a Mitzva to awaken him, so that he can get his daily quota of learning done.

However, if it's obvious that he will simply nod off to sleep again - for example, you already nudged him a few times - then it's probably best to let him sleep, as he won't gain anything be been woken for a few seconds.

Best is to ask him - once he's awake when the shiur ends - and ask him what he'd like you to do next time he falls asleep during the shiur.

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