Are You Planning on Staying Up All Night to Learn on Shavuos?

Are you planning to stay up all night to learn on Shavuos?

Do you usually start to nod off during davening on Shavuos morning? If so, at what point of the davening?

14 comments on “Are You Planning on Staying Up All Night to Learn on Shavuos?

  1. On those occasions when the first night of Shavuos falls on motzaei Shabbos, it’s much easier to remain awake until 5 AM. However, one cannot take the standard Shabbos nap with the idea, “I’m sleeping now so I can stay up late tonight to learn.” Same deal as when Erev Pesach is Shabbos, when you can take a nap that afternoon except not with the express intent of remaining awake during the Seder.

    Parenthetical thought: It’s also so much easier when “Erev Purim” (Taanis Esther) falls on Shabbos, then you don’t have to fast and therefore can listen to the Megillah being read that night without a pounding headache and rumbling stomach. And it’s also so much easier when “Erev Tisha B’Av” or Tisha B’Av itself falls on Shabbos and you don’t have to eat the seudas hamafsekes of hardboiled egg in ashes, but can enjoy at least before sunset a normal Shalosh Seudos meal (even a fleishig meal).

  2. I believe there’s a saying, “Minhag Yisroel Torah Hu.” A longstanding and widely-accepted custom of the Jewish people is Torah. Of course, if a minhag directly contradicts the halacha, it’s assur. Follow the guidance of your own Poseik or local Orthodox Rabbi.

    The custom of staying up all night on Shavuos has become nearly universal. “All night,” however, has a lot of interpretation. If your meal ends at 12 midnight and you are davening Shacharis at 5 AM, “all night” is really only five hours, much less than a college final exam all-night study bender.

    My husband at age 58 finds he can no longer do what he did at 28. Years ago he stayed up all night to learn. He can’t do that anymore, so now he goes to sleep at 12 midnight following the layl Yom Tov seudah and wakes up at 4:20 AM to walk to shul for shacharis with the minyan. At 7 AM he comes home and goes to sleep for a few more hours before Yom Tov lunch. Everyone does what he is able to do.

  3. I would probably not stay up any more but for my young boys, who really expect me to. I guess as long as they’re home, I will do it, because they insist on it for themselves — it’s just expected in their circles — and so I need to be there. I believe, however, that the cost to the next “morning”‘s davening, in my case, does not justify my staying up. I did take a little bit of the edge off it this year by putting my head down for 15 minutes between 3 and 4. It also enables me to say all the berachos the next morning without, I think, any question.

    Looking forward to Nathan’s answer to Bob.

  4. Rabbi Berel Wein wrote a series of books about Jewish History. Find those books and lookup the Zohar in the index that is found in the back of each of those books.

  5. Nathan,

    1. You owe us some details, including their sources, to support your claims.

    2. Clearly at least some of the Zohar’s teachings are now more accessible than they were centuries ago. What’s to stop a community from basing a quasi- (that is, non-binding) minhag on one such teaching?

  6. The minhag to learn Torah the entire night of Shavuot has no basis in revealed Torah, in other words, normal stuff like: Mishnah, Jerusalem Talmud, Babylonian Talmud, Rashi, Tosefos, etc.

    This minhag comes from the Zohar, which comes under the category of secret Torah, and therefore is only for a few elite scholars, not the masses of average Jews.

    Also, the Zohar is a Midrash, and there is a general rule somewhere which states that we do not take Halachah from midrashim.

    Last but not least, the Zohar was totally lost for 12 centuries, and when it was discovered, it was not accepted immediately by all Rabbis.
    For 300 years after the discovery of the Zohar, there were Rabbis who believed that the Zohar (or parts of it) is not authentic Torah.

  7. Everyone has his own tolerance level for staying up and his own strategy. The main thing is for the learning and davening to improve us.

  8. The minhag to stay up all night is fantastic and certainly a Torah highlight for me and my son.

    As far as davening Shacharis with kavanna, sometimes I find it easier when I’m tired since my mind is not racing as much.

  9. I stay up. A good combination of learning with a chavrusa and shiurim as well as plenty of caffeine and a nap after the first YT meal goes a long way to keeping you awake through the night.

  10. PS- I will also add that I’m careful not to sleep all afternoon on the first day.
    I’ll also be pumping myself with Sugar-Free Red Bull and Starbucks Via.
    There is no way I could stay up w/o caffeine (sadly).

  11. I do stay up.
    In the past, I’ve sort of spaced out during leining, but now I make sure to drink coffee exactly 45 minutes prior to davening.
    Then I go home, nap for an hour and usually bring my 10 yr old and 7 yr old to shul (as I would normally on a Yom Tov), and learn while others are davening.

  12. For about 30 years I stayed up all night. Finally, in my “old age” I realized two things. I was falling asleep during the learning AND I was falling asleep during davening! A double whammy!

    While staying up all night is a really nice Kabbalistically-based minhag there are clear halachot about how you’re supposed to comport yourself during davening.

    Just a couple of days ago I read the following from Rav Aviner:

    But one should be aware that if he cannot daven Shachrit with proper concentration, on account of the exhaustion of learning Torah all night, it is better not to stay up since davening properly is a clear obligation (the Magen Avraham makes this exact point regarding staying up all night on Yom Kippur – see Orach Chaim 511:11).

    Here’s the full link:

    Whatever you do, have a Chag Someach!

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