Category Archives: Tikkun Chatzot

Starting off the Spiritual New Year Right


Starting off the Spiritual New Year Right
Mitzvah-making Opportunities for the Spring and Summer

As we came into the month of Nissan we began celebrating the height of our spiritual year, in fact this is the start of the biblical year. (see Exodus 12:2, and Parshat Archarei). Whereas in fall we observe the start of the civil year and consider the concepts of righteousness, justice and repentance, we celebrate the spiritual new year with the joy of the “z’man cheiruteinu / season of our freedom.”

Just because Pesachthe Passover holiday– is over doesn’t mean this season ends. In the Talmud and classical Halachic works Nissan itself is considered an entire month dedicated only to joy and celebration; one big holiday free of mourning. There are a lot of ways to celebrate our freedom. One of the best was is to take advantage of that liberty and work towards our own enrichment. Nothing is more important to work on than our spiritual and emotional state. Coming out from under the effect what ever complications we might have stepped out of in this season should take first priority. There is no better investment we can make than in our own soul.

The spring season comes with unique opportunities for spiritual advancement and self-reflection. One of the best ways is by following along with the Sefirah haOmerthe Omer Count. Learn how to make this period between Pesach and Shavuot work for you. You can find a study and the Blessings according to the minhag Nusach haAri z”l (Chabad) with a counting guide in the links below. Also, part of the reflection is the recitation of the Psalm 67 (I failed to cite the source in the Siddur release, it will be corrected shortly). We can delve even deeper by meditating upon this Psalm as well, learn how:

Also during this season, we have to keep in mind that the physical seasons change as well. That means that the nights are getting shorter, and the days longer. This can effect some people, especially if you live in the far north, where daylight can be as little as as 4-6 hours long at best in the height of summer even if your not in the Arctic Circle. The following guides are how to approach Tikkun Chatzotthe Midnight Rite – during this season, as well as an introduction and the liturgical text:

At of course, in gearing up for Shavuot we again will need the prayers of the Shelosh Regalim, don’t forget to also get the Hallel and Rosh Chodesh packets. We are so grateful to have these resources hosted by our partners at the Open Siddur Project. You can find the link below.

And finally, the month of Nissan isn’t over yet. Have you had a chance to say the Blessing on a Blossoming Fruit Tree? For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, we still have a few more days to make this happen. Find out how:

Last but not least, it is important for us to remember when studying the parsha according to the 1-year scheme t – the weekly Torah portion schedule for a single year – that in 2012 it differs outside of Israel from the one read inside Eretz Yisrael. Those who are inside Israel and only observe 1 day of Yom Tov already began Parshat Shemini last Shabbat. For everyone else b’chutz l’aretz outside of Israel, in the Diaspora – we are just beginning it this week as last Shabbat was still Yom Tov. This schedule will remain ahead of us by one week until Shavuot of this year.

With all that said, I want to commend everyone who worked so hard to make a kosher and liberating Pesach. I am proud of all the hard work people in our little learning community have invested in cleaning not just their homes, but their inner self with careful scrutiny and humility. I am even more thrilled to see how much joy and feeling of freedom we are all experiencing for it as well. Now on to Har Sinai!

Do you need a siddur? This blog proudly cooperates with The Open Siddur Project. The project is a volunteer based organization dedicated to documenting and making the wealth of Jewish prayer and prayer resources available with free, redistributable licensing in electronic format and print formats. You can find my contributions of liturgy HERE. Find out how you can also be a part of this worthy cause!


Tikkun Chatzot


Tikkun Chatzot
Do we say the Midnight Rite During Spring and Summer?

When I originally wrote “Tikkun Ḥatzot: Getting Right at Midnight: Introduction to the Midnight Rite as a scholarly and historical piece to accompanist the release of the Nusach haAri z”l (Chabad) Prayerbook text I explained that many people take on this practice during the winter when the nights are long. But I failed to answer the question of how we apply this during the spring and summer when nights are shorter; mostly because this was answered in the actual siddur release itself. I didn’t keep in mind this would not be shown by most search engines, so I’ve received a lot of requests for an explanation.

To help answer this I am posting the actual instructions (with only one additional line of advice from the Tanya, in bold near the end; this will appear in all future editions to be released, bizrat hashem) from the Open Siddur Project release below (written by yours truly). Also see the links below to download your copy today! Hopefully before the seasons change again I will be able to translate a fresh English translation. For a detailed description of the rite, refer to the aforementioned introduction.

There are some general rules to keep in mind, we do not recite Tikkun Rachel on days the Tachanun confession is not said (this applies to the entire month of Nissan, as it is an entire month of celebration). This applies to Shabbat and Festivals – including Pesach and Pesach Sheini, Lag b’Omer, and the period from Rosh Chodesh Sivan until seven days after Shavuot. In the fall/winter months this will also apply from Erev Yom Kippur until the end of Tishrei, all of Chanukah, Tu biShevat, Purim and Shushan Purim. It is the custom of many Sephardim to not say Tikkun Rachel at all during the Sefirat haOmer. Some also choose to omit Psalm 20 and Psalm 51 from Tikkun Leah. On Tisha B’Av most Sephardim say Tikkun Rachel while omitting Tikkun Leah.


“It is, however, appropriate for anyone who is G-d-fearing, and all people of valor whose heart has been touched by Hashem, to rise at midnight and devote a little time to mourning for the destruction of the Holy Temple and the exile of the Divine Presence.”

Shulchan Aruch Ha-Rav, Mahadura Batra – Hashkamat HaBoker, 1:2
Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, The Baal HaTanya

The scriptures tell us “Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches, pour out your heart like water, facing the Presence of G-d.” (Lamentations 2:19) It is the custom among the pious to rise up during the night and pray for the rebuilding of Temple and the redemption of Jewish People.

The ideal times appointed for saying this devotional prayer is at the true celestial midnight; which is the actual midpoint of the night. This will vary depending on the season and location. The Baal HaTanya (S.A.HaRav; MB, Hashkamat HaBoker, 1:8) teaches us to calculate this as 12 hours after high noon, when the sun is directly overhead; this is agreed upon by many authorities including the Ben Ish Chai (Vayishlach §4). If one finds they cannot say Tikkun Chatzot at the appointed time then it is appropriate to say it at the first third of the night, or the second third of the night; or the end of the night, up until 1 hour before sunrise. There are various automated Zmanim resources available online, such as at Chabad.org or MyZmanim.com, that will calculate the halachic times for your location.

“The main devotion of the Israelite man is, in winter, to be vigilant to rise for the midnight prayer.And in summer, when the night is very short, less than six hours, and hence we do not rise at midnight, then he should be careful to rise in the morning early at dawn.”

Likutei Etzot, Chatzot §6
Reb Natan of Breslov

If one rises to say these prayers and has slept during the night then one should say “The Morning Blessings” and the “Blessing of the Torah.” If one woke up before it’s time, one should wait until chatzot (true-midnight) to say these blessings. However, if one cannot sleep and has awoken early then one may say the “Blessing of The Torah” and study until chatzot, then say “The Morning Blessings” and repeat the “Blessing of the Torah” together at that time. One will not have to repeat these blessings later, even if they return to sleep; their requirement to say them for that day has already been fulfilled.

Additionally, we should also keep in mind the urging of the Baal haTanya who stated: “Whoever cannot do this nightly should maintain an absolute minimum of once every week, before the Shabbat.”. (Lekutei Amarim – Tanya: Iggeret haTeshuvah §10)

The prayers of Tikkun Chatzot are divided into two sections, Tikkun Rachel and Tikkun Leah. The central theme of Tikkun Rachel is mourning over exile and distress, and therefore is not appropriate to say on days of celebration. However, Tikkun Leah carries the theme of praise and longing for the Presence of G-d.

Tikkun Rachel is only said on days in which Tachanun is said; it should not be said on days of celebration, including Shabbat and Festivals. Tikkun Leah, according to the Ashkenzi tradition, may be said on days even when Tachanun is not said; including Shabbat, Festivals, minor holidays, etc. (it is the custom of Sephardim to not say Tikkun Chatzot at all on Shabbat or Festivals).

When saying Tikkun Chatzot, it is the custom to sit close to a door that has a mezuzah affixed to it. It is to be said in a solemn tone, being sang according to the melody of Lamentations or merely read aloud.


Download:

The Tikkun Ḥatzot of Rav Shneur Zalman of Lyadi (from Siddur Torah Ohr, 1803) graciously hosted by the Open Siddur Project:
PDF | ODT | TXT (v.3.0)



Tikkun Ḥatzot


Tikkun Ḥatzot: Getting Right at Midnight — An Introduction to the Midnight Rite

By: Shmueli Gonzales
In Cooperation with The Open Siddur Project
Repost from December 9, 2010

One of the wonderful things about Kabbalistic devotion is that you can practice it at any time of the day or night. Our tradition has so many prayers, rituals and meditations that you can find something for just about any situation. Do you find that you don’t have enough time in the day for prayer and meditation? Well, don’t worry there are plenty of hours in the night too! During the winter, when the nights are longer and the days shorter, it is the custom on many pious people to take on saying Tikkun Chatzot. As we are now in that season I would like to once again share this study and liturgy. Special thanks to Aharon Varady of The Open Siddur Project for his input, and great skill in editing and formatting.


Crescent Moon

“Arise, cry out in the night…” – Psalms 2:19

Curious students who have spent much time digging through treasuries of great prayer books often notice the Tikkun Ḥatzot. It’s almost impossible to miss in most Nusaḥ Ari z”l and Sepharadi siddurim, being placed right in the middle of the morning prayers and followed by a pretty good helping of suggested study material such as mishnayot, Zohar, or other kabbalistic tracts.

The popular practice of a night time prayer vigil is not well understood. In the siddur, most people pass by it because they don’t know what to do with it. Others are confused because of the lack of consistency in its presentation from one siddur to the next. At the end of the day, this ritual would be regarded as a rite reserved for the pious — for the great tzadikim who made regular use of it.

Though there is much variance in the way this ritual became practiced among different Jewish communities, it became more popular over time. Lifestyles changed as Jews moved from the countryside into cities, and the regular sun-up to sun-down routine became less fixed. Based on biblical example the rabbis took up prayer at night. They cited the following verse in Eikha on rising up at the hours of the change of the guards:

ק֣וּמִי׀ רֹ֣נִּי בליל בַלַּ֗יְלָה לְרֹאשׁ֙ אַשְׁמֻר֔וֹת שִׁפְכִ֤י כַמַּ֙יִם֙ לִבֵּ֔ךְ נֹ֖כַח פְּנֵ֣י אֲדֹנָ֑י שְׂאִ֧י אֵלָ֣יו כַּפַּ֗יִךְ עַל־נֶ֙פֶשׁ֙ עֽוֹלָלַ֔יִךְ הָעֲטוּפִ֥ים בְּרָעָ֖ב בְּרֹ֥אשׁ כָּל־חוּצֽוֹת׃

Arise, cry out in the night,
At the beginning of the watches;
Pour out thy heart like water
Before the face of the Lord”

(Lamentations 2:19) [1]

Lamentations 2:19 would be the basis of the first section known as Tikkun Raḥel, after the biblical matriarch. Because Raḥel was known as a biblical example of suffering and heartache (see Jeremiah 31:14-16), the Tikkun Raḥel was sanctified as a time for people to let out their inner most sufferings and cry out to G-d.

They also cited the words of Tehillim:

חֲצֽוֹת־לַ֗יְלָה אָ֭קוּם לְהוֹד֣וֹת לָ֑ךְ עַ֝֗ל מִשְׁפְּטֵ֥י צִדְקֶֽךָ׃

At midnight I will rise up to give thanks to You, for your righteous judgment.”

(Psalms 119:62)

This would be the basis of formulating the second part, Tikkun Leah, named after the other matriarch of Israel and wife of Jacob. This section would be comprised of prayers and songs of praise for salvation, to raise one out of despair after pouring out their heart. It was understood by the Rabbis that when Israel went into exile the Presence of G-d also descended into exile with us. This was understood as a moment for one’s soul to attempt to cleave to G-d. One would reflect and take comfort in G-d being close to us and our trouble; thanking Him joyfully because He is always faithful to save.

Likewise following their understanding of Psalms 134:1′s reference to “standing in the house of G-d at night” as meaning standing at the bimah learning, they deemed it was appropriate for one to study the Torah at night. Thus was added the custom of studying mishanyot, Zohar, or other mystical works at the end of this prayer vigil.

The rabbis thereby found a justification for nighttime prayer and study. They thus formulated from our tradition a very stirring custom of personal devotion. Because this often meant people interrupting their sleep in order to fulfill this tikkun it was placed after the blessings one says when they awake, where it now is placed in most all Nusaḥ Ari z”l siddurim and comprehensive prayerbooks of the other traditions.

History

At the very beginning of his Shulḥan Arukh (Code of Jewish Law), Rav Yosef Caro (1488-1575) states the following halakhic code:

א. כארי לעמוד בבוקר לעבודת בוראו, שיהא הוא מעורר השחר.

ב. המשכים להתחנן לפני בוראו – יכוין לשעות שמשתנות המשמרות, שהן: בשליש הלילה, ולסוף שני שלישי הלילה, ולסוף הלילה, שהתפילה שיתפלל באותם השעות על החורבן ועל הגלות רצויה.

ג. ראוי לכל ירא שמים שיהא מיצר ודואג על חורבן בית המקדש.

1. One should strengthen himself like a lion to get up in the morning to serve his creator. He should get up early enough to welcome in the dawn.2. One who wishes to get up early and pray before his creator should try to do so at the times where the angels change shifts. This occurs after one third of the night, after two thirds and after the night is over.
3. The prayer that one prays at those times should be concerning the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple) and on the exile. [2]

Rav Karo and his circle of kabbalists in Tzfat made a structured service for the change of shifts around midnight — the Tikkun Ḥatzot (literally, midnight rectification). This practice, as most of the liturgy that was adopted by the mystical schools of Eretz Yisrael, was based on a Sepharadi liturgy. It would be comprised of several prayers, confessions, Psalms, Lamentations and other scriptural passages relating to the churva – the destruction that led to exile. Over time various communities and schools of thought added liturgical dirges (kinot) and meditations to it that were written by kabbalist rabbis.

In the Ashkenazi tradition many kinot were added to the readings and would eventually make up the majority of the Tikkun Ḥatzot in some cases. The Sefaradim, however only added yichudim (literally, unifications) spiritual meditations for arousing the presence of the Shechina – the Presence of G-d — to help bring about a tikkun olam, healing of the world.

The Ari z”l adopted the Sepharadic liturgy when he settled in Eretz Yisrael, bringing these yichudim into his nusaḥ. When the hassidic movement coalesced in the early 18th century, it followed the example of the Ari z”l, and the Tikkun Ḥatzot was absorbed into their siddurim. As the Nusah Ari z”l predated the authorship of the kinot, hassidic siddurim did not contain them. In later years other ḥassidim would adopt kinot and yichud. Rebbe Naḥman of Breslov would also use Ḥatzot as an opportunity for practicing hitbodedut – heartfelt personal prayer and meditation.[3]

When the Baal HaTanya [Rav Shneur Zalman of Lyadi] formulated his siddur, his general approach was to make the text usable for people of all traditions. One of the ways of harmonizing was to not add the various lengthy liturgical songs and poems that were different from place to place. He focused more on the actual prayers and the scriptures; what was necessary for the common man. Likewise he also dropped the Yichud from his siddur in almost all cases, as being non-essential.

In the Siddur Torah Ohr of the Baal HaTanya (the ḤaBaD siddur that predated the now more widely used Siddur Tehillat Hashem) the Tikkun Ḥatzot was placed at the end with many various prayers and rituals that were paired with study material. As previously stated, the Baal HaTanya edited his text based on logical variances he applied broadly to his siddur, his selections follow the same framework here. The only variance aside from that is that he did not include the confessions (Tavo L’fanecha and Ashamnu) as he saw it being of such importance that he included it in the Bedtime Shema said before one goes to bed so that one would not miss out on it if the nights were short and would not be able to wake up for Tikkun Ḥatzot. This ritual would never become commanded, it would always stand as an optional form of devotion; though the Baal HaTanya would encourage people to attempt to sayTikkun Ḥatzot at least once a week, preferably on Thursday night (prior to Erev Shabbat).[4]

Sadly Tikkun Ḥatzot did not make it into later editions of Siddur Tehillat Hashem, which was edited based on the teachings of the Lubvaticher Rebbe, of blessed memory; although he was known to say Tikkun Ḥatzot every night, as this was attested to by the previous Rebbe. [5]

Below is the official ḤaBaD text and structure presented for the first time in our generation, taking its place with the rest of the Baal HaTanya‘s liturgical work. To make this text broadly usable, and in keeping with the sections of the Nusaḥ Ha-Ari z”l I have previously presented, I decided to write all new instructions in English. I also added the confession in a shaded box, for people who follow this custom.

This one ritual stands out as an example of Jewish innovation, designed to work with the time one had at their disposal. No longer was one mostly constrained to practicing their devotion during the daytime hours — in keeping with the schedule of the farmer that rose when the rooster crowed. If one was to stay up all night, or get up at midnight, or get up with the change of the guards in their city; these were all appropriate times to do something spiritual as well. Likewise it also showed the importance of giving a spiritual place for people to express their deepest needs, with tears.

Download:

The Tikkun Ḥatzot of Rav Shneur Zalman of Lyadi (from Siddur Torah Ohr, 1803) graciously hosted by the Open Siddur Project:
PDF | ODT | TXT (v.3.0)


Notes:

  1. The verse continues, “Lift up thy hands toward Him
    For the life of thy young children,
    That faint for hunger
    At the head of every street.’”
    From The Holy Scriptures According to the Masoretic Text Lamentations 2:19. Jewish Publication Society:1917.
  2. From “Shulchan Arach: Halachos of a person’s morning preparations: Chapter 1 – Laws of awakening in the morning..” Translation by Jay Dinovitser. Accessed December 12, 2010.
  3. [hitbodedut — from the root בדד boded, to isolate oneself, opening one’s heart in sincere verbal discourse with the Holy Blessed One. –Aharon Varady]
  4. “In our bereaved generation, however, when not all are capable of turning their hearts instantly from one extreme [to the other, from humility to joy], it is advised that teshuvah tata’ah be practiced earlier, at Tikkun Ḥatzot. [This is an especially appropriate time for the spiritual stocktaking that leads to the humility of a “broken and contrite heart],” as noted above. Whoever cannot do this nightly should maintain an absolute minimum of once every week, before the Shabbat.”. “Tanya: Iggeret haTeshuvah §10”, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Lyadi. Accessed December 12, 2010.
  5. “Despite the Previous Rebbe’s joy at the Rebbe’s arrival, his poor health prevented him from coming to greet the Rebbe personally. Instead, he delegated four of his elder chassidim: R. Yisrael Jacobson, R. Shmuel Levitin, R. Eliyahu Simpson, and R. Shlomo Aharon Kazarnovsky. By way of introduction, he told them: ‘I will reveal to you who he is. He recites Tikkun Chatzos every night. He is proficient in the [Talmud] Bavli by heart, together with [the glosses of] Ran, Rosh, and Rif, the [Talmud] Yerushalmi together with its commentaries, Rambam, and Likkutei Torah with all its references. Go and greet him.’” “Paths of Providence: Greeting The Rebbe” SICHOS IN ENGLISH. Accessed December 12, 2010.

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