Welcome EVERYONE to LearnEmunah.com's Tikun Leil Shavuot!
Chag Savuot Samaech!
May HaShem grant us the mitzvah of staying up together tonight! If not, we will do what we can! Remember:
"There is nothing that you absolutely must do or else.
If you can, you can. But if you cannot:
"G-d exempts a person under duress" ( Bava Kama 28b) -- Rebbe Nachman, Sichot Haran #235.
We ask HaShem's blessings on our studies:
Bauch ata Adonai, Eloheinu melech haolam,
asher kid'shanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu la'asok b'divrei torah.
We thank You Eternal God, Sovereign of the universe,
who calls us to holiness through mitzvot, commanding us to engage in the study of Torah.
HaTorah commands: “You shall rejoice in your festival, with your son and daughter, your male and female slave, the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow in your communities” – Deuteronomy 16:14
First, An Explanation:
You may be wondering how I am doing an online broadcast during the festival of Shavuot. Its a fair question to ask since we normally avoid electronics on the Shabbatot and the Chagim. Here's my reply:
I am employing the same halachic reasoning used for Shabbat elevators, Shabbat lighting, Shabbat blech (stoves) etc. My broadcasting equipment was left on and set up from before Shabbat and will not be turned off until the Chag ends (barring a power failure, may HaShem prevent this from happening). This avoids halachic concerns about 'lighting a fire' or 'igniting an electric spark' to turn on or off the power, etc. The texts have been written or prepared before HaShabbat, thus avoiding the prohibition against writing on Shabbat or a yom tov.
We of Der Alte Weg Chassidus (“Old Way Chassidic” Judaism) believe that because so many Jews and Noahidim do not have the opportunity to attend Shabbat services and special events for various reasons it is good to offer these options, while agreeing fully that a good brick and mortar shul is preferable. To facilitate this much of our service is performed online.
It is the halachic ruling of my Rebbe, Rabbi Aryel Nachman ben Chaim, our standing beit din, and the honorable Sephardic Yeshiva we are members of, that for religious purposes these arraignments are halachically permissible as described here, and even praiseworthy. I am not interested in debating this ruling. I have explained our minhag concerning this clearly. Take part or not as prefer. Our online shul, the House of Seven Beggars, has been conducting regular services this way for a great many years and HaShem has clearly blessed our efforts and those of our Rebbe.
To participate in our various Shabbat and/or festival offerings observant Jews are advised to turn on and leave their computers on with their browsers on my Facebook page or on the Seven Beggars' You Tube page for events they plan to attend.
Note that Orthodox Halacha demands that Jews not write more than three letters on Shabbat and yom tovim. Most Hebrew words have a three letter “root” and so the prohibition is that one not write any words. An option many of our members use to communicate during the live broadcasts are the emoticons. These do not require the writing of any letters but can still express some ideas. :-) Noahidim have no such prohibition and may comment as they choose.
Note: My regular Sunday broadcasts are canceled this week in honor of Shavuot.
The command to observe Shavuot is located especially at Leviticus 23:15-21:And from the day on which you bring the sheaf of elevation offering—the day after the sabbath—you shall count off seven weeks. They must be complete:
you must count until the day after the seventh week—fifty days; then you shall bring an offering of new grain to the LORD.
You shall bring from your settlements two loaves of bread as an elevation offering; each shall be made of two-tenths of a measure of choice flour, baked after leavening, as first fruits to the LORD.
With the bread you shall present, as burnt offerings to the LORD, seven yearling lambs without blemish, one bull of the herd, and two rams, with their meal offerings and libations, an offering by fire of pleasing odor to the LORD.
You shall also offer one he-goat as a sin offering and two yearling lambs as a sacrifice of well-being.
The priest shall elevate these—the two lambs—together with the bread of first fruits as an elevation offering before the LORD; they shall be holy to the LORD, for the priest.
On that same day you shall hold a celebration; it shall be a sacred occasion for you; you shall not work at your occupations. This is a law for all time in all your settlements, throughout the ages.
We just completed the 49 day Omer Count and hence merit the blessings of Shavuot by HaShem's mercy. I posted the nightly count, along with contemplations on them, each night on my Facebook Wall. It is through the counting of the omer that we merit, by the mercy of HaShem, to come to the joyous Festival of Shavuot.
Our Planned Readings, B'ezrat HaShem: (Make a LOT Coffee!)
A short reading from Likutey Tefilot in English
The entire Book of Ruth in English
A short reading called “The Power of Free Choice,” by Reb Yossi Katz
LIKUTEY MOHARAN # 56:1-12, in English
LIKUTEY MOHARAN II # 4:1-4:15 in English
Tzva'at Harivash: Testament of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov in English
Rebbe Nachman's Hitkashrut and Tikun Klali – The Ten Prayers of Teshuvah and Redemption in English.
The practice of the Shavuot All-Nighter began with the 16th-century mystics of Tzfat (Safed), Israel, under the leadership of Rabbi Isaac Luria, the great Kabbalist. We remain awake to show that, unlike the situation of our heavy-lidded ancestors at Sinai, there is no need to bring us to our senses; we are ready to receive Torah. The tikkun (which refers both to the study session and to the text used for it) was the only observance developed specifically for Shavuot.
Shavuot has several different names in the Tanach. In Exodus 34:22 and Deuteronomy 16:10 it is referred to as Chag ha-Shavuot, “Feast of Weeks,” one of the harvest festivals on which pilgrims brought offerings to the Temple in Jerusalem. In Numbers 28:26 it is called Yom ha-Bikkurim or “Day of the First Fruits”; Shavuot was a celebration of the harvest of the first fruits of late spring, and dates, figs, grapes, pomegranates, and olives, in addition to wheat and barley, were brought to the Temple by worshipers. In Exodus 23:16 Shavuot is called
Chag ha-Katzir, meaning the “Harvest Feast”; Shavuot occurred at the beginning of the wheat harvest, while the barley harvest was commemorated at Passover; in
biblical Israel the month of Sivan signaled the end of spring and the beginning of summer. The wheat-harvest aspect of Shavuot was observed by bringing to the Temple an offering of bread loaves baked from the new grain harvest. The pilgrims who came to Jerusalem would gather and celebrate the festival joyously. In modern times this agricultural event is celebrated in Israel’s kibbutzim with dancing and singing. In the Talmud Shavuot is known as “Atzeret,” “a festive assembly” of all the people. The specific command to celebrate this holiday is found at Leviticus 23:15-21.
After the destruction of the Temple, the observance of Shavuot — marked by bringing the first fruits of the harvest to the Temple — was no longer possible, so the Rabbis proscribed a different a different focus. Shavuot is the only biblical holiday without an association with some historical or profound religious experience. The Rabbis, seeking an historical basis for the holiday, noted that Torah links Pesach, the Omer count, and Mount Sinai in a continuum. Exodus 19:1, reads, “In the third month after the children of Israel had gone forth out of the land of Egypt, on the same day they came into the wilderness of Sinai.” Based on this biblical connection the sages transformed Shavuot from an agricultural celebration to the anniversary of the Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Based on this the authors of the Babylonian Talmud (at Pesachim 68b), observed Shavuot as Z’man Matan Torateinu, “The Season of the Giving of Our Law.”
The Sephardim practice an unusual ritual for Shavuot. After the ark is first opened on Shavuot morning, congregants read a ketubah (marriage contract) between God, the groom, and Israel, the bride. In the text of the ketubah God invites the bride to His palace and promises to bind Himself to her forever. The bride replies, “
Na’aseh v’nishmah,” “We will do and we will listen.” These are the identical words that were said at Mount Sinai by the Children of Israel. And the groom’s gift to the bride is given—the Torah and the oral law.
According to a Jewish legend, at exactly midnight on Shavuot, the heavens open for an instant and God will respond favorably to any prayer that is spoken then. According to one commentator, it’s likely that this story was told to keep children—not to mention sleepy adults—awake and alert during the night’s study session. The origin of the midnight time for prayer and study lies in Psalm 119:62: “At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee.” This psalm is attributed to David, who, according to the Talmud (b. Sukkah 29b), was a notorious insomniac, being satisfied with only “sixty breaths of sleep.”
In the Zohar there is a passage that praises those who stay awake all night in anticipation of receiving the Torah. Why did this custom arise in the first place? A midrash relates that God revealed the Law at Mount Sinai at noon, but the Children of Israel had overslept and Moses had to rouse them. This gave rise to the custom of staying awake all night as a way of atoning for their failure to be awake and alert when God appeared. The Ari (Rabbi Isaac Luria of Safed), a major figure in Jewish mysticism, emphasized the importance of prayer and meditation late at night. The custom of saying the tikkun chatzot, “midnight service” had existed for many centuries; the custom had grown out of talmudic practice. By the time of the Ari, the prayer sessions had become divided into two parts: tikkun Rachel, said at night and tikkun Leah, said early in the morning (both prayers were named after Jacob’s wives). Prayer at these times was said to connect the individual with the daily creations of light and darkness.
!!! MAKE A LOT OF COFFEE !!!
Joseph Karo, the Sephardi author of the Shulchan Arukh, is credited being one of the creators, in Salonica in 1533, of the all-night study session on the eve of Shavuot, called tikkun leil Shavuot (“service for Shavuot night”). Karo moved to Tzfat (Safed) in 1536 and introduced the tikkun leil Shavuot to the kabbalists of the town. Fortunately, coffee had been introduced in Safed several years earlier, in 1528. It appears that the availability of coffee greatly facilitated all-night study; people who had participated in tikkun Rachel and tikkun Leah could now spend the entire night in study.
Elliott Horowitz (Department of Jewish History, Bar-Ilan University) provides us with a fascinating reconstruction about the development of late-night and all-night rituals as opposed to early morning rituals in 17th –18th century Jewish mystical circles. Coffee arrived in Venice in 1615. The first public coffee house opened in 1640. In 1655, for the first time, Italian Jews accepted the tikkun leil Shavuot ritual. Horowitz notes that during the next thirty years no less than five editions of tikkun leil Shavuot texts were published in Venice. Similar events occurred in other areas of Europe coinciding with the rise of coffeehouses. In Worms, the Jewish community was charged with supplying coffee specifically for Shavuot night. It seems that coffee thus facilitated greater participation in a ritual that demanded wakefulness through the night.
1. Let us begin with a short reading from “The Fiftieth Gate” -- Likutey Tefilot, as published in Reb Noson's Prayers, Volume 3, Prayer 56 “For Shavuot,” which is on page 303 as translated by Reb Yaacov David Shulman, published by BRI: Breslov Research Institute.
2. We now turn to the most commonly read text of this festival, The Book of Ruth: I will be reading from the Sefaria translation which can be found at Sefaria. Those who are with me live on Google Hangouts are invited to read one of the chapters.
First an introduction to the book:
Boaz was a rich landowner who noticed Ruth, the widowed Moabite daughter-in-law of Naomi, a relative of his, gleaning grain from his fields. He soon learned of the difficult circumstances her family was in and was impressed by Ruth's loyalty to Naomi. In response, Boaz invited her to eat with he and his workers regularly. He further commanded his workers to deliberately leave some grain for her to collect, while keeping a protective eye on her.
Eventually Boaz and Ruth strike up a friendship which leads to Ruth asking him to marry her. Boaz accepts, but warns that there is a family member who has a superior right to her hand in marriage according to the existing customs. He arranges a meeting with the relative to discuss this claim and in the presence of a minion (ten) of the town leaders convinces him to buy Naomi's husband's land.
Once the relative agrees to redeem the land, Boaz informs him that by redeeming the land he was also required to take Ruth as his wife, as was customary under the laws and culture of Israel. This law was in place so widowed women (in this case) Ruth could have children who could carry on their late husband's family name and thus keep the land in the family. After hearing this stipulation, the relative refused to buy the land fearing it would complicate his own inheritance. At that point, he transferred his right to buy the land to Boaz – He did this by removing his sandal and handing it to Boaz as tradition dictated. This was the customary symbol in Israel during that time for anyone transferring the right of purchase. By doing this, the path was made clear for Boaz and Ruth to be joined in marriage as described at Ruth-4.1–10.
In Scripture Boaz is said to be much older than Ruth. Most dramatic adaptations however have Boaz as a handsome young man. This is intended to enhance the romantic nature and appeal of the story, but its not true. He was much older.
What has this story got to do with the giving of Torah and Shavuot?
Ruth and Boaz were the parents of Obed. Obed was the father Jesse, and Jesse fatherd David HaMelech. Through the line of David HaMelech Mashiach ben David will one day arise. Shavuot and this account therefore, in a sense, reveal both the giving of the Torah and the long awaited Messiah! Interestingly enough, David HaMelech died on a Shavuot. For the reason some communities hold a dinner in his honor on Erev Shavuot.
Now let us read together the Book of Ruth in English as translated by Sefaria ---
3. I'd now like to share with you with a short piece called “The Power of Free Choice” By Reb Yossi Katz
4. Another the important Jewish Sage who died on a Shavuot and to whom we are deeply indebted, is Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov. The "Besht" is the most honorable tzadik who inspired Chassidus. All Chassidic movements look to him as their source of inspiration and direction.
Among these Chassidic Masters is our Rebbe Nachman of Breslover. Rebbe Nachman was the great grandson of the Baal Shem Tov and he too has an important link to David HaMelech and the coming Mashiach! The Rebbe noted: “My fire will burn until the coming of Mashiach!”. He also shared that HaShem revealed to him that HaMashiach Ben David will arise from his lineage! Baruch HaShem! The astounding wisdom of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov is therefore of especially great importance.
Let's now read two sections from Rebbe Nachman's masterpiece, Likutey Moharan. I will be reading from Rabbi Israel Dov Odesser's translation. This is an incredibly enlightening work that has virtually no equals in the world's religious or mystical texts in my opinion.
Note that we can discuss related questions however for the most part my intention is to simply read unless some important question is burning in your mind. Allow this wisdom to reveal itself within your consciousness with much outward influences. This is the way the Rebbe intended this great work to be received, with very little commentary. If you have a copy of THIS translation, are with me in Hangouts, and are willing to read, please let me know. For sake of clarity, we will be using this translation only. If you have a different translation, such as that of the Breslov Research Institute, and it is different on some specific point that you feel is important, you are welcome to share that with the group in text or vocally (if you are on Hangouts with me).
IF we are still awake after this, we will turn to Tzva'at Harivash: The Testament of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, and attempt to read it in its entirety with some commentary.
This should bring us close to Shacharit if we endure. – If you need to leave for sleep that is fine! No worries and no judgments!
If there is still time remaining, we will also read Rebbe Nachman's complete Tikkun Klali in English. These are the Ten Psalms of Teshuvah and Redemption.
5. LIKUTEY MOHARAN: # 56:1-12
LIKUTEY MOHARAN II: # 4:1-4:15
6. Tzva'at Harivash: Testament of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov
Likutey Tefilot: Breslov Research Institute, Jerusalem/New York
“The Power of Free Choice,” by Reb Yossi Katz:
Chag haShavuot Interesting and Unusual Shavuot Facts: http://kehillatisrael.net/chagim/shavuot/Shavuot.pdf
Tzva'at Harivash: Testament of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, translated by Jacob Immanuel Schochet, Kehot Publication Society, USA
To Desire and to Thank, Rabbi Shalom Arush, Chut Shel Chessed Institutions, Jerusalem, Israel.
Interesting and Unusual Facts About Shavuot
!!! CHAG SHAVUOT SAMEACH !!!
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