Is Exhaustion a Jewish Value?
(א) וַֽיְהִי֙ דְּבַר־יְהוָ֔ה אֶל־יוֹנָ֥ה בֶן־אֲמִתַּ֖י לֵאמֹֽר׃ (ב) ק֠וּם לֵ֧ךְ אֶל־נִֽינְוֵ֛ה הָעִ֥יר הַגְּדוֹלָ֖ה וּקְרָ֣א עָלֶ֑יהָ כִּֽי־עָלְתָ֥ה רָעָתָ֖ם לְפָנָֽי׃ (ג) וַיָּ֤קָם יוֹנָה֙ לִבְרֹ֣חַ תַּרְשִׁ֔ישָׁה מִלִּפְנֵ֖י יְהוָ֑ה וַיֵּ֨רֶד יָפ֜וֹ וַיִּמְצָ֥א אָנִיָּ֣ה ׀ בָּאָ֣ה תַרְשִׁ֗ישׁ וַיִּתֵּ֨ן שְׂכָרָ֜הּ וַיֵּ֤רֶד בָּהּ֙ לָב֤וֹא עִמָּהֶם֙ תַּרְשִׁ֔ישָׁה מִלִּפְנֵ֖י יְהוָֽה׃ (ד) וַֽיהוָ֗ה הֵטִ֤יל רֽוּחַ־גְּדוֹלָה֙ אֶל־הַיָּ֔ם וַיְהִ֥י סַֽעַר־גָּד֖וֹל בַּיָּ֑ם וְהָ֣אֳנִיָּ֔ה חִשְּׁבָ֖ה לְהִשָּׁבֵֽר׃ (ה) וַיִּֽירְא֣וּ הַמַּלָּחִ֗ים וַֽיִּזְעֲקוּ֮ אִ֣ישׁ אֶל־אֱלֹהָיו֒ וַיָּטִ֨לוּ אֶת־הַכֵּלִ֜ים אֲשֶׁ֤ר בָּֽאֳנִיָּה֙ אֶל־הַיָּ֔ם לְהָקֵ֖ל מֵֽעֲלֵיהֶ֑ם וְיוֹנָ֗ה יָרַד֙ אֶל־יַרְכְּתֵ֣י הַסְּפִינָ֔ה וַיִּשְׁכַּ֖ב וַיֵּרָדַֽם׃ (ו) וַיִּקְרַ֤ב אֵלָיו֙ רַ֣ב הַחֹבֵ֔ל וַיֹּ֥אמֶר ל֖וֹ מַה־לְּךָ֣ נִרְדָּ֑ם ק֚וּם קְרָ֣א אֶל־אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ אוּלַ֞י יִתְעַשֵּׁ֧ת הָאֱלֹהִ֛ים לָ֖נוּ וְלֹ֥א נֹאבֵֽד׃

(1) The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: (2) Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim judgment upon it; for their wickedness has come before Me. (3) Jonah, however, started out to flee to Tarshish from the LORD’s service. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. He paid the fare and went aboard to sail with the others to Tarshish, away from the service of the LORD. (4) But the LORD cast a mighty wind upon the sea, and such a great tempest came upon the sea that the ship was in danger of breaking up. (5) In their fright, the sailors cried out, each to his own god; and they flung the ship’s cargo overboard to make it lighter for them. Jonah, meanwhile, had gone down into the hold of the vessel where he lay down and fell asleep. (6) The captain went over to him and cried out, “How can you be sleeping so soundly! Up, call upon your god! Perhaps the god will be kind to us and we will not perish.”

Consequence #1: You will sleep through the most important moments of your life.

Opportunity Knocks: Wake up.

(טז) וּבָרָ֗ק רָדַ֞ף אַחֲרֵ֤י הָרֶ֙כֶב֙ וְאַחֲרֵ֣י הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֔ה עַ֖ד חֲרֹ֣שֶׁת הַגּוֹיִ֑ם וַיִּפֹּ֞ל כָּל־מַחֲנֵ֤ה סִֽיסְרָא֙ לְפִי־חֶ֔רֶב לֹ֥א נִשְׁאַ֖ר עַד־אֶחָֽד׃ (יז) וְסִֽיסְרָא֙ נָ֣ס בְּרַגְלָ֔יו אֶל־אֹ֣הֶל יָעֵ֔ל אֵ֖שֶּׁת חֶ֣בֶר הַקֵּינִ֑י כִּ֣י שָׁל֗וֹם בֵּ֚ין יָבִ֣ין מֶֽלֶךְ־חָצ֔וֹר וּבֵ֕ין בֵּ֖ית חֶ֥בֶר הַקֵּינִֽי׃ (יח) וַתֵּצֵ֣א יָעֵל֮ לִקְרַ֣את סִֽיסְרָא֒ וַתֹּ֣אמֶר אֵלָ֗יו סוּרָ֧ה אֲדֹנִ֛י סוּרָ֥ה אֵלַ֖י אַל־תִּירָ֑א וַיָּ֤סַר אֵלֶ֙יהָ֙ הָאֹ֔הֱלָה וַתְּכַסֵּ֖הוּ בַּשְּׂמִיכָֽה׃ (יט) וַיֹּ֧אמֶר אֵלֶ֛יהָ הַשְׁקִינִי־נָ֥א מְעַט־מַ֖יִם כִּ֣י צָמֵ֑אתִי וַתִּפְתַּ֞ח אֶת־נֹ֧אוד הֶחָלָ֛ב וַתַּשְׁקֵ֖הוּ וַתְּכַסֵּֽהוּ׃ (כ) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֵלֶ֔יהָ עֲמֹ֖ד פֶּ֣תַח הָאֹ֑הֶל וְהָיָה֩ אִם־אִ֨ישׁ יָב֜וֹא וּשְׁאֵלֵ֗ךְ וְאָמַ֛ר הֲיֵֽשׁ־פֹּ֥ה אִ֖ישׁ וְאָמַ֥רְתְּ אָֽיִן׃ (כא) וַתִּקַּ֣ח יָעֵ֣ל אֵֽשֶׁת־חֶ֠בֶר אֶת־יְתַ֨ד הָאֹ֜הֶל וַתָּ֧שֶׂם אֶת־הַמַּקֶּ֣בֶת בְּיָדָ֗הּ וַתָּב֤וֹא אֵלָיו֙ בַּלָּ֔אט וַתִּתְקַ֤ע אֶת־הַיָּתֵד֙ בְּרַקָּת֔וֹ וַתִּצְנַ֖ח בָּאָ֑רֶץ וְהֽוּא־נִרְדָּ֥ם וַיָּ֖עַף וַיָּמֹֽת׃

(16) as Barak pursued the chariots and the soldiers as far as Harosheth-goiim. All of Sisera’s soldiers fell by the sword; not a man was left. (17) Sisera, meanwhile, had fled on foot to the tent of Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite; for there was friendship between King Jabin of Hazor and the family of Heber the Kenite. (18) Jael came out to greet Sisera and said to him, “Come in, my lord, come in here, do not be afraid.” So he entered her tent, and she covered him with a blanket. (19) He said to her, “Please let me have some water; I am thirsty.” She opened a skin of milk and gave him some to drink; and she covered him again. (20) He said to her, “Stand at the entrance of the tent. If anybody comes and asks you if there is anybody here, say ‘No.’” (21) Then Jael wife of Heber took a tent pin and grasped the mallet. When he was fast asleep from exhaustion, she approached him stealthily and drove the pin through his temple till it went down to the ground. Thus he died.

Consequence #2: This is a matter of life or death.

Opportunity Knocks: Every moment of awareness is a mini-Yom Kippur.

Midrash Bonus: According to the Gemara (Nazir 23b), Yael slept with Sisera seven times to completely exhaust him before she killed him. Despite traditional gender norms, this act of forbidden intercourse does not stain her reputation. Rather, it is considered to be for "the sake of heaven" and so she is praised and celebrated for her strength and virtue. When do you justify your actions/exhaustion by telling yourself "it's for the sake of heaven" or "this isn't about me, it's about something bigger"?

(כט) וַיָּ֥זֶד יַעֲקֹ֖ב נָזִ֑יד וַיָּבֹ֥א עֵשָׂ֛ו מִן־הַשָּׂדֶ֖ה וְה֥וּא עָיֵֽף׃ (ל) וַיֹּ֨אמֶר עֵשָׂ֜ו אֶֽל־יַעֲקֹ֗ב הַלְעִיטֵ֤נִי נָא֙ מִן־הָאָדֹ֤ם הָאָדֹם֙ הַזֶּ֔ה כִּ֥י עָיֵ֖ף אָנֹ֑כִי עַל־כֵּ֥ן קָרָֽא־שְׁמ֖וֹ אֱדֽוֹם׃ (לא) וַיֹּ֖אמֶר יַעֲקֹ֑ב מִכְרָ֥ה כַיּ֛וֹם אֶת־בְּכֹֽרָתְךָ֖ לִֽי׃ (לב) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר עֵשָׂ֔ו הִנֵּ֛ה אָנֹכִ֥י הוֹלֵ֖ךְ לָמ֑וּת וְלָמָּה־זֶּ֥ה לִ֖י בְּכֹרָֽה׃ (לג) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יַעֲקֹ֗ב הִשָּׁ֤בְעָה לִּי֙ כַּיּ֔וֹם וַיִּשָּׁבַ֖ע ל֑וֹ וַיִּמְכֹּ֥ר אֶת־בְּכֹרָת֖וֹ לְיַעֲקֹֽב׃ (לד) וְיַעֲקֹ֞ב נָתַ֣ן לְעֵשָׂ֗ו לֶ֚חֶם וּנְזִ֣יד עֲדָשִׁ֔ים וַיֹּ֣אכַל וַיֵּ֔שְׁתְּ וַיָּ֖קָם וַיֵּלַ֑ךְ וַיִּ֥בֶז עֵשָׂ֖ו אֶת־הַבְּכֹרָֽה׃ (ס)

(29) Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the open, famished. (Note: the Hebrew says ah-yef, which means tired/exhausted.) (30) And Esau said to Jacob, “Give me some of that red stuff to gulp down, for I am famished”—which is why he was named Edom. (31) Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.” (32) And Esau said, “I am at the point of death, so of what use is my birthright to me?” (33) But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. (34) Jacob then gave Esau bread and lentil stew; he ate and drank, and he rose and went away. Thus did Esau spurn the birthright.

Consequence #3: You will make bad decisions that have lasting impact.

Opportunity Knocks: The Priceless Pause.

וְאָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ, כְּשֶׁהָיָה משֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ עָלָיו הַשָּׁלוֹם רוֹעֶה צֹאנוֹ שֶׁל יִתְרוֹ בַּמִּדְבָּר, בָּרַח מִמֶּנּוּ גְּדִי, וְרָץ אַחֲרָיו עַד שֶׁהִגִּיעַ לַחֲסִית, כֵּיוָן שֶׁהִגִּיעַ לַחֲסִית, נִזְדַּמְּנָה לוֹ בְּרֵכָה שֶׁל מַיִם, וְעָמַד הַגְּדִי לִשְׁתּוֹת, כֵּיוָן שֶׁהִגִּיעַ משֶׁה אֶצְלוֹ, אָמַר אֲנִי לֹא הָיִיתִי יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁרָץ הָיִיתָ מִפְּנֵי צָמָא, עָיֵף אַתָּה, הִרְכִּיבוֹ עַל כְּתֵפוֹ וְהָיָה מְהַלֵּךְ. אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, יֵשׁ לְךָ רַחֲמִים לִנְהֹג צֹאנוֹ שֶׁל בָּשָׂר וָדָם כָּךְ חַיֶּיךָ אַתָּה תִרְעֶה צֹאנִי יִשְׂרָאֵל, הֱוֵי: וּמשֶׁה הָיָה רוֹעֶה.

(2) ... Our teachers have said: Once, while Moses our Teacher was tending [his father-in-law] Yitro’s sheep, one of the sheep ran away. Moses ran after it until it reached a small, shaded place. There, the lamb came across a pool and began to drink. As Moses approached the lamb, he said, “I did not know you ran away because you were thirsty. You are so exhausted!” He then put the lamb on his shoulders and carried him back. The Holy One said, “Since you tend the sheep of human beings with such overwhelming love - by your life, I swear you shall be the shepherd of My sheep, Israel.”

Consequence #4: Others will notice and comment.

Opportunity Knocks: Say yes to help.

באושפיזא - שאלוהו על אושפיזו אם קבלו בסבר פנים יפות ואמר לאו מדה טובה היא כדי שלא יקפצו בו בני אדם שאינן מהוגנין לבא תמיד עליו ויכלו את ממונו:

Quick back story: In the Talmud, in tractate Bava Metzia, R. Yehuda says in the name of Shmuel, "There are only 3 things a rabbi can lie about: a section of Torah, intimacy, and hospitality." Rashi, a medieval commentator, picks up on the oddity of giving rabbis permission to tell lies (maybe only white lies), and wonders aloud, "Why hospitality?"

Regarding hospitality - If people ask him if his host received him well. Answer them "no." This is a good character trait in order to prevent undesirable guests from inundating him [the host] and exhausting his resources.

Consequence #5: You forget that you *can* say "No."

Opportunity Knocks: Say no.

(יב) אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים בְּרִית כְּרוּתָה שֶׁכָּל הַיָּגֵעַ בְּתוֹרָתוֹ בְּבֵית הַמִּדְרָשׁ לֹא בִּמְהֵרָה הוּא מְשַׁכֵּחַ. וְכָל הַיָּגֵעַ בְּתַלְמוּדוֹ בְּצִנְעָה מַחְכִּים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (משלי יא ב) "וְאֶת צְנוּעִים חָכְמָה". וְכָל הַמַּשְׁמִיעַ קוֹלוֹ בִּשְׁעַת תַּלְמוּדוֹ תַּלְמוּדוֹ מִתְקַיֵּם בְּיָדוֹ. אֲבָל הַקּוֹרֵא בְּלַחַשׁ בִּמְהֵרָה הוּא שׁוֹכֵחַ:

(12) The sages said: "There is an established covenant that he who exhausts himself in studying the Torah in the Bet Hamidrash will not easily forget it; and he who exhausts himself studying Torah privately by himself becomes wise, even as it is said: "But with the lowly is wisdom" (Prov. 11.2). He who during his study reads the words audibly, his study remains with him; but he who whispers out his words speedily forgets them.

(ב) דָּבָר אַחֵר – כי גאה גאה, עַל כָּל הַשִּׁירוֹת וְכָל מַה שֶּׁאֲקַלֵּס בּוֹ, עוֹד יֵשׁ בּוֹ תּוֹסֶפֶת, וְלֹא כְמִדַּת מֶלֶךְ בָּשָׂר וָדָם שֶׁמְּקַלְּסִין אוֹתוֹ וְאֵין בּוֹ:

(2) Another explanation of כי גאה גאה: I will sing unto the Lord although (כי) He is exalted high above all songs and however much I may praise Him there will still remain something additional in Him to be praised (עוד יש בו תוספת — I can never exhaust his praises), and not as is the practice in respect to a human king whom one praises, attributing to him certain virtues whilst these are really not in him.

What's worth exhaustion? (Something you love. Something that energizes you. That which connects you to a source of renewal: God, relationships, hobbies, exercise...)

Daring Leadership: Modeling and Supporting Rest, Play, and Recovery

Armored Leadership: Rewarding Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Attaching Productivity to Self-Worth

“Today we pay a lot of lip service to the idea of ‘bringing your whole self to work’—yet the organizations that actually allow employees to do that are few and far between….what I often observe is that many organizational cultures and leaders still subscribe to the myth that if we sever the heart (vulnerability and other emotions) from our work, we’ll be more productive, efficient, and (don’t forget) easier to manage….These beliefs lead us to consciously or unconsciously build cultures that require and reward armor….where heart and emotion, especially vulnerability, are seen as liabilities….”

Excerpts from Brene Brown, Dare to Lead