Sunday, March 12, 2006

Polyphasic Sleep and the Vilna Gaon

It is well-known that the Vilna Gaon only slept two hours in every twenty four, in half-hour increments. I believe that this is attributed to R' Chaim of Volozhin in his introduction to the Vilna Gaon's commentary on Safra D'Tzni'usa. I used to think that this was supernatural, but it appears that it isn't.
Look at this article, and at this website.
UPDATE: I misreported the source for the tradition about the Vilna Gaon. Please see the comments for the correct source. Thank you to Independent Frum Thinker!


Anonymous Lou said...

Rabbi Gluck, consider adding Bloglet to your blog, as I see hirhurim just did. This program (applet?) emails new posts from the blog to subscribers (free).

I love reading everything you post but need to check frequently to see if anything new has posted. More often than not there is nothing new and my checking is thus inefficient.

It's true you might then get an inaccurate estimate of how many groupies you really have as the hit counter will get used less and likewise advertising might be trickier but it would certainly benefit me. You're a smart guy, you can figure something out.

20/3/06 7:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

lou, go to and they'll e mail you new posts from any blog with an xml feed

21/3/06 10:18 PM  
Blogger Moshe Y. Gluck said...

Lou, it is a good idea, and I hope to implement it soon.
I don't have groupies, I barely get 15 hits a day :-) .

21/3/06 11:20 PM  
Blogger ClooJew said...

Some ppl, lulei demistafina, only need 2-3 hours per sleep a night in any case. Ed McMahon from the Tonight Show said he only slept three hours a night. Jay Leno claims the same thing. Maybe it's a Tonight Show gift.

In any case. Would you make Birkas HaTorah six times a day? When would you say Hamapil?

23/3/06 12:32 AM  
Blogger Moshe Y. Gluck said...

ClooJew, I was wondering about such questions, too.
I think that you should say all the birchos hashachar in the morning, either davening with a vasikin minyan or saying the b'rachos and shema, and davening later. The exception is hama'avir sheinah, which I think you would need someone to be motzi you with if you slept in twenty minute increments.
I don't think you would say hamapil.
(Disclaimer: I'm not a posek, blah, blah, blah...)

24/3/06 2:23 AM  
Blogger Moshe Y. Gluck said...

Lou, you've got bloglet...

24/3/06 2:55 AM  
Blogger Editor said...

What about Dovid Hamelech?
IIRC it says that he was only misnamnem k'sus.

In Lubavitch it said in the Rebbetzins name the the Rebbe was always up at 4:AM either becasue he has not slept or was already up for the next day.

It is reported that on the nights that he slept, it was for about 2-3 hours.
(He did not sleep at all on Thursday and Friday nights - and reportedly the entire Sukkos!).

Someone once asked him why he sleeps so little and he responded "Schneersons don't need much sleep".

17/7/06 3:31 PM  
Blogger Moshe Y. Gluck said...


18/7/06 12:39 AM  
Blogger Independent Frum Thinker said...

Actually, it's in the Hakdama to the Biur HaGra on Shulchan Aruch, written by his sons.

I definitely don't think it was supernatural. He had such tremendous Ahavos HaTorah. People don't realize how much inner strength they really have.

3/12/06 10:24 AM  
Blogger Moshe Y. Gluck said...

IFT, you are correct in your Mar'eh Makom, however I haven't been able to get ahold of a Safra D'Tzni'usa yet to double check there, too.

8/12/06 12:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thomas A. Edison lehavdil, also had the same sleep schedule.

1/1/07 8:02 PM  
Blogger Moshe Y. Gluck said...

IFT - I looked in the Hakdamah to Safra D'Ttzni'usa, and although R' Chaim Volozhiner talks about the Vilna Gaon barely sleeping, he doesn't say what the Gaon's sons say in the Hakdamah to Biur HaGra. So, I hereby stand corrected as to the source! Thanks.

21/5/07 1:18 PM  
Blogger Steve Berke said...

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5/6/18 3:12 AM  

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