Friday, May 25, 2012

Shavuot Night Rectification Not For Women Because…

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Shavuot Night Rectification Not For Women Because…

The Women Didn’t Cause Any Damage in the First Place

By Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, Chief Rabbi of Tzfat (Safed)

Question: How binding is the custom to study all night on Shavout? Does the nocturnal learning apply to women as well?

Answer: The source for studying all night on Shavuot is the Zohar, which describes the great value of the custom.

All-night study in the Bet El Yeshiva

But I would like to focus on the angle of Tzfat. The entire establishment of the city of Tzfat stems from the recital of the Shavuot Tikkun (The Tikkun, or Rectification, is selected passages from multiple Torah texts which are studied Shavuot night and formulate a kabbalistic “rectification”).  It began with Rabbi Yosef Karo who sat and studied in the Diaspora with Rabbi Shlomo Alkabetz (author of Lecha Dodi) on the night of Shavuot. In the course of reciting the Tikkun, they received a spiritual broadcast from heaven which declared that the exile of Israel from the Land was over, and they must make aliyah to Israel.

They indeed left their homes and moved to Tzfat, in the wake of which the great spiritual blossoming transpired there.

An alley in Tzfat

So, if the city of Tzfat was built from the recital of this all-night Tikkun, how can we not take part in it? If you will, the entire Zionist movement started from this Tikkun recited by Rabbi Yosef Karo, which led to mass aliyah (moving) to Israel, settlement of the Land, and only later the arrival of Herzl.

The explanation for the custom to study Torah all night on Shavuot stems from the fatigue which the men of Israel suffered from before the receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. They fell asleep, and Moshe had to rouse Israel to receive the Torah, instead of their waiting in anticipation. To correct this error, we stay awake this night to show our eagerness to receive the Torah.

But since the women were not a part of this transgression, the Tikkun (rectification) does not apply to them either.

Throughout the entire redemption process, the women did not fall spiritually as much as the men, and since they did not err in the first place, the rectification for them is not obligatory.

In fine, women certainly can study Torah on the night of Shavuot and should study, but the Tikkun in the sense of a process of amends does not apply to them, as they didn’t cause any damage from the outset.

Translated and edited by Baruch Gordon

[This Hebrew article originally appeared in the May 24, 2012 edition of BeSheva Magazine, a national weekly for the religious public]

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