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Women and Tiqqun Leil Shabu’oth
Should Women Stay Up All Night On Shabu’oth?
As we know, women are exempt from many of the obligations that men have in Judaism. The main reason being that women have an obligation in the home, a concept which may sometimes be at odds with “modern-day” Western culture, but the Holy One blessed be He created us in such a way, that a woman has greater capabilities and understanding in bringing up a home, while a man’s strengths lie elsewhere. At Mattan Torah, our forefathers went to sleep instead of staying awake in anticipation of receiving the Torah. For this reason, the men stay awake all night on the night of Shabu’oth, immersed in the study of the Torah, reading the Tiqqun.
Women have no obligation whatsoever, to stay up during the night of Shabu’oth. If a woman wishes to stay up, she does receive reward. This assumes that she has no other responsibilities in the home which will suffer as a result of her being awake all night. The first responsibility is to her home and family. If she has a young family and she and her husband will be awake all night, there is no question that she will not be able to attend to the needs of her family correctly and with the appropriate frame of mind and humor for the next few days. As such, a woman in this position, should not stay up all night on Shabu’oth.
Unfortunately there are Synagogues today, who pressurize women to come and hear Shi’urim all night. This creates undue peer pressure on the women who feel that they are somehow lacking in faith, belief and religion if they do not come to the all-night sessions. It is my humble belief that this is a grave failing on the part of the Synagogues, to be taking away many women from their familial responsibilities for the aggrandizement of the Synagogue, or even because they feel it is the right thing to do. On the night of Shabuoth the men have a responsibility to come to the Synagogue and stay up all night reading the Tiqqun, but the women do not. If they do come they get a reward. However, if they come at the expense of their families, their reward (Sakhar) is far exceeded by their loss (Hefsed).
Traditionally, in Sephardi circles, it was considered more important for women to stay up all night on Hosha’na Rabba, than on Shabuoth (the reasons for staying awake on Hosha’na Rabba are very different). I do not see the same ardor concerning Hosha’na Rabba nowadays.
I am mentioning this primarily for the women who feel pressurized, against their better judgment, to stay awake all night at the expense of their families. No woman should feel pressurized to do so if she does not feel it is the appropriate thing to do. Indeed, a woman has no obligation to remain awake on the night of Shabu’oth and if she wishes to go to bed should not feel any guilt whatsoever. If she wishes to stay awake, immersed in Torah, but not at the expense of her family, she will be rewarded. However, her primary emphasis should be to ensure that the men in her home all go to the synagogue to study the Tiqqun, as ordained by our Rabbis.
Tizkoo Leshanim Rabboth
Rabbi Ya’aqob Menashe
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