Posted by: gruvenreuven | June 6, 2008

Shavuot All Nighter

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In 1984 (My Senior year in College) I followed the Grateful Dead for most of the spring. As such I fell behind on my Systems Analysis project. In the end I needed to I pull an all nighter with a pot of black coffee. As it turned out, I aced the project and enjoyed the excitement of an all night study session. So today, be it work, or study I always enjoy a good heated all-nighter. How even more so now studying Torah!

According to a story in the Midrash, the night before the Torah was given, the Israelites retired early to be well-rested for the momentous day ahead, but they overslept and Moses had to wake them up because God was already waiting on the mountaintop. To rectify this flaw in the national character, Frum Jews stay up all night to learn Torah. Any subject may be studied, although Talmud, Mishna and Torah typically top the list.

The custom of all-night Torah study goes back to 1533 when Rabbi Joseph Caro, (author of the Shulchan Aruch) invited his Kabbalistic colleagues to hold a night-long study vigil. During this study session an angel appeared before them and commanded them to go live in Eretz Yisrael.

In keeping with the custom of engaging in all-night Torah study, the Arizal, a leading Kabbalist of the 16th century, arranged a special service for the evening of Shavuot. The Tikkun Leil Shavuot (“Rectification for Shavuot Night”) consists of excerpts from the beginning and end of each of the 24 books of Tanach (including the reading in full of several key sections such as the account of the days of Creation, The Exodus, the giving of the Ten Commandments and the Shema) and the 63 chapters of Mishnah. This is followed by the reading of Sefer Yetzirah, the 613 commandments as enumerated by Maimonides, and excerpts from the Zohar, with opening and concluding prayers. The whole reading is divided into thirteen parts, after each of which a Kaddish d’Rabbanan is recited when the Tikkun is studied with a Minyan.

Since I do not own an English Translation of Sefer Tikkun Leil Shavout, and although I could technically read the Hebrew, it’s more important that I understand what I’m reading. I guess I could cross reference Sefer Tikkun Leil Shavout with the many English translations that I do have of the Tanach & Mishnah.. Maybe next year. This year I will be reading the book of Ruth, then studying the complete Middrash Rabba on the book of Ruth. If I complete that I will read the Rambam’s Sefer Ha’Mitzvot which details the 613 Mitzvot.

Torah & Cheesecake.... mmmmmmmDairy foods such as cheesecake and blintzes with cheese and other fillings are traditionally served on Shavuot. One explanation for the consumption of dairy foods on this holiday is that the Israelites had not yet received the Torah, with its laws of ritual slaughtering of animals. As the food they had prepared beforehand was not in accordance with these laws, they opted to eat simple dairy meals to honor the holiday.

So my wife and son have been busy making batches of Cheesecakes. The first batch which is pictured is already gone! What can I say, it was a test batch. So we sampled, found it to be delicious, sampled some more.. and more.. next thing you know we need to make more for the Holiday this Monday/Tuesday


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