Minhag Chabad is to spend the night of Shavuos reading selected portions from the Torah, known as Tikun Leil Shavuos. Read about the history of the minhag and download a printable file.
Special thanks to R. Yosef Yitzchok Kratz for providing us with the booklet to benefit the public.
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The Origin of Tikun Leil Shavuos
What happens when two tzaddikim and mekubalim of the stature of Reb Shlomo Alkabetz and Rav Yosef Caro spend the awesome night of Shavuos together?
The answer is recorded in a 16th-century manuscript written by R. Shlomo Alkabetz: “The Beis Yosef and I decided to stay awake on the night of Shavuos and read passages of the Torah. [These passages are the basis of what later became the Tikkun Leil Shavuos.] After chatzos, as we reached the section of Mishnayos, a sweet voice was heard aloud from the mouth of the Beis Yosef. We all fell on our faces from sheer fright. The voice grew ever louder, until even the neighbors were able hear it, though they were unable to understand it. The voice, having been created by the Mishna we had learnt, told us of the pain suffered by the Shechina [in exile], and the great impact our learning this night had, silencing all the Malochim and piercing all the heavens. It then spoke of our great zechus of staying awake this night, and the greater effect it would have had with a minyan. The voice then encouraged us to continue learning throughout the night, not wasting even a moment. Finally, the Shechina instructed us to stand up and say Boruch Shem… aloud, as is done on Yom Kippur.
We wept profusely, from the joy of our experience and for the pain of the Shechina. “When we met three other chachomim in the mikve the next morning, we related to them what had happened that night. They were understandably distressed, and we resolved to gather again on the second night, this time with a minyan.
“That night, because of our joy at having a minyan, the voice of the Shechina began speaking as soon as we started reading the Aseres HaDibros of Devarim. The voice praised our attainment, told us of the ruchnius’dike fire surrounding the house, and then directed us to say Boruch Shem. As the time of chatzos drew near, the Shechina spoke again and told us that for hundreds of years no such accomplishment had been attained.”
The Shaloh HaKadosh copied this story from the manuscript of Reb Shlomo Alkabetz and concluded: “It is apparent in his writing that there was much more that he was not allowed to reveal. From this story we must learn how important it is to conduct ourselves with a special kedusha on this night.”
Reprinted from The Weekly Farbrengen, with permission from Merkaz Anash.