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Make Your Bed
Mom with a View

Make Your Bed

There’s a good reason the army cares about those hospital corners. Judaism does too.


I’ve never served in the army, air force or navy. But I’ve read a lot about the (very) demanding training and the severe discipline involved.

Whether on land, sky or sea, all of the services focus on the importance of a chore our mothers tried desperately to instill in us – making our beds.

Some of my kids ignore the request, some think it means pulling the comforter up over the lumpy sheets, and some actually do as desired. Apparently in the armed services, only the third option is acceptable.

There is a technique to making the beds, to having crisp sheets (a coin should bounce off them?) and perfect corners. And adherence to the specific bed-making rules is strictly enforced. Their mothers would be proud.

But what difference does it make? Do you fight better or tougher is your bed is made just right?

The army must believe so. And the air force. And the navy. And the marines.

Why? I think that discipline generalizes. Those who can be disciplined in the little things will carry it through to the bigger ones. Those who make the little things count will definitely treat the big things with appropriate seriousness.

In Ethics of Our Fathers (2:1) we are advised to treat minor mitzvot the same way we treat the major ones. The stated reason is that we don’t know which has the greater reward.

We also don’t know the full impact of such an attitude. We don’t know how that sense of self-control and self-discipline will shape our lives.

Sometimes the “bigger” mitzvot are easier to keep. I don’t think about breaking Shabbos. But I’m so tired; do I really have to say the Shema before I go to sleep? I’m so busy; do I really have to say the afternoon prayer. But of course it all carries over. I’ve had a long day with the kids; do I really have to be attentive to my husband when he walks in the door? I have a big project do at work; do I really have to patient with my son when he relates a long story of an incident on the playground?

In Jewish life we do sweat the small stuff. Because in Jewish life the small stuff matters. It all makes us who we are. It’s a reflection of our character if we take the extra time, if we go the extra mile, if we keep trying even when our body is screaming “sleep, sleep” (it actually does sound a little like army training!), if we exercise self-control even when we don’t feel like it, especially when we don’t feel like it.

None of us grew up looking forward to making hospital corners every morning. It means there’s no time to push the snooze button, no extra rolling over. But perhaps hospital corners mean more than we think. It’s that extra attention to detail that makes us who we are.

June 7, 2014

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Visitor Comments: 4

(4) Miriam, June 13, 2014 1:32 PM

So true

Thank you

(3) susan, June 13, 2014 9:07 AM

make your bed!

I have heard that expression my whole life from the time il was a toddler until I left home, but t followed me thru school and into college but it all started from the Bible lessons I recieved my whole reap what you sow, for every action there's an equal reaction and in my gardening experience; its touched me so many ts, even the dime bouncing off my made bed as my parents always expressed that very same lesson when I was a kid as we had a. Solier who was a barder at or house who taught it to my parents. And if we did
Did not make our beds the way we were taught, we had to dense the bed until the dime nkhcdd off the bed. My first try, I made my bed over ten times the first day before the time bounced. It frustrated me, but it gave me the stamina to deal with the next problem....pressing and folding sheets to the same strict rules...and do on.I acted those task but each new task I learned he.p me get stonger for the next hard task that came along n my life.... I would give anything yo still be at home working those small task.but one leads to another and we are made strong in doing thins not not built character but caused me to do were right so righteousness became alert if my spirit and there was no confusion about doing rings right after I left became who I am today....and hopefully makes me mid like my heavenly father in caring and fling what's right in all things ....

(2) susan, June 13, 2014 8:52 AM

thsnks fir the reminders

I've years it all my life his small things matter and evenad gthat very same lesson when I was 8 years old to make my bed and my both parents would check out how well I made my bed, then they proceeded to Vince a dime ft the middle of my bed and of it did not bounce, I had go make my bed. I hated it but t prepared me for a lot of disks in my life....small things all things! One thing ffects the other....this each was carried in in high school and in to college. For every action, there's an equal reaction! It s more then biblical, what w did we reap.

(1) Scott, June 11, 2014 12:46 PM

you change the world if you make your bed

This post is great as a followup to a commencement speech just given to Univ of Texas grads by an Admiral in the Navy who was a Navy Seal. One of the best speechs I have seen:

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