Shavuot

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Preparation for Shavuot

  1. Some say that thirty days before Shavuot one should start learning the halachot of Shavuot, whereas others say that one should start from Rosh Chodesh Sivan. [1] All agree that on the holiday itself one should learn the halachot of Shavuot. [2]
  2. The notion that one should learn in preparation for the holiday doesn't mean that a talmid chacham should stop his regular learning in order to learn halacha of the upcoming holiday, rather it means that a question about hilchot shavuot is given precedence to questions not about shavuot.[3]

Decorating the Shul for Shavuot

  1. Some have the custom to decorate the shul for Shavuot with flowers, trees or nice smelling fruits. [4]
  2. Some communities abstain from this custom because it may be considered a chok akum. [5]

Eating Dairy on Shavuot

  1. Some have the custom to eat dairy meals the first day of Shavuot. [6]

Shavuot night

  1. One shouldn't say Kiddush on Shavuot night until Tzet HaKochavim.[7]Some say one should even wait to say Arvit,[8] while others argue.[9]
  2. Many have the custom to stay up Shavuot night learning torah.[10]
  3. If staying up all night, and one plans on drinking multiple times throughout the night, it is best to make a Shehakol and Borei Nefashot for each drinking. However, if when making the first Shehakol of the night, one has explicit Kavanah (intention) for that Bracha to cover all other drinkings of the night, that works as well, and one would then not need a new bracha at each drinking. [11]

Shavuot morning

  1. Many have the custom to stay up Shavuot night learning Torah. [12] There are several halachot that those who follow this practice should bear in mind:
  2. According to Ashkenazim, after daybreak [13], one should use the bathroom, thus dirtying one’s hands, wash his hands for Netilat Yadayim with a Bracha, and then say Asher Yatzar. [14] One should hear Elokai Neshama, HaMaavir Sheinah, and Birkot HaTorah from someone who slept. The rest of the Birkot HaShachar may be recited as usual. [15] If one normally wears a Talit for Shacharit, he should have intent that the bracha on his Talit should cover his Talit Katan as well. If, however, one doesn't wear a Talit, he should hear the bracha from someone else. [16] If one slept a Sheinat Kevah the day before staying up all night, he may recite the Birkot HaTorah in the morning for himself. [17]
  3. According to Sephardim, after using the bathroom one should say Asher Yatzer and not the bracha of Al Netilat Yadayim. [18]One may say Elokai Nishama, HaMaavir Sheinah, and Birkot HaTorah for himself. [19] The bracha recited over the Talit covers the Talit Katan as well. [20]

Netilat Yadayim

  1. One who didn’t sleep at all at night should wash Netilat Yadayim in the morning without a bracha, since there’s a dispute whether there's an obligation to wash Netilat Yadayim in the morning if one did not sleep the night before. According to Ashkenazim, one who didn't sleep but goes to the bathroom in the morning should wash Netilat Yadayim with a Bracha. [21]
  2. One should not learn after Olot HaShachar until he washed his hands in the morning. [22]
  3. If one slept less than 30 minutes [23] or slept in a temporary fashion (putting one’s head on the table) [24], then it is as if he did not sleep at all. [25]

Asher Yatzer

  1. According to Ashkenazim, if one slept at night, one should make Asher Yatzer in the morning whether or not one went to the bathroom; however, if one didn’t sleep, he should only recite Asher Yatzer if he goes to the bathroom. [26]

Tzitzit

  1. If one went to sleep (or stayed up) in Tzitzit, preferably one should make a Bracha on wearing a talit to cover the Bracha for Tzitzit, however if that’s not possible, one may make a Bracha on those Tzitzit in the morning, and as one makes the bracha one should shake the Tzitzit strings. [27]

Brachot HaTorah

  1. If one didn’t sleep at all during the night, one shouldn’t recite Brachat HaTorah but should hear them from someone who is obligated to make them (both must have kavana, and after the Bracha, both learn some pesukim such as Parshat Birkat Cohanim). [28]
  2. If one slept Shinat Kevah the day before staying up all night, one should make the Brachot hatorah in the morning after one didn’t sleep. [29]

Brachot HaShachar

  1. If one didn’t sleep at all, one should listen to Elokei Nishama and HaMaavir Shenah from someone who did sleep. [30] However, the rest of the Brachot HaShachar one can make oneself. [31]
  2. One should not learn after Olot HaShachar until he said Brachot HaShachar. [32]

Sources

  1. In Gemara Pesachim 6a, Rabbanan hold that one should begin to learn Hilchot Pesach thirty days in advance of Pesach, whereas Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel holds only 2 weeks. Rabbanan learn this idea from Moshe who taught the laws of Pesach Sheni thirty days in advance which was Pesach in Nissan. S"A 429:1 rules like the opinion of the Rabbanan. Mishna Brurah 429:1 quotes some who entend this to other Yamim Tovim such as Shavuot, whereas the Gra held that it does not apply to Shavuot.
  2. Gemara Megillah 32b states that one should learn the halachot of Shavuot on Shavuot. Mishna Brurah 429:1 quotes this as halacha.
  3. Chazon Ovadyah (Pesach pg 1) explains that the halacha in Gemara Pesachim 6a is relevant in regards to the laws established in Tosefta Sanhedrin 7:5 which state that a person should ask relevant questions and a relevant question has precedence over the irrelevant questions.
  4. Rema O"C 494:3 explains that the custom commemorates the joy of Matan Torah. The custom is an ancient one dating back to the time of the medrash Targum Sheini on Megillat Esther 3:8. Magen Avraham there explains that trees are used for decoration so that we should pray for a good fruit harvest because Shavuot is the day we are judged regarding the fruits of the year. Yechave Da'at 4:33 adds a reason for decorating with flowers.
  5. This is the opinion of the Gr"a as quoted by the Chayei Adam 131:13, Ma'aseh Rav, Aruch Hashulchan O"C 494 and others. Yechave Da'at 4:33 explains that the custom is nevertheless justified based on the Shu"t Maharik S' 88 who explains that there is no concern of "Bechukoteihem lo telechu" by a custom that has a good reason for its practice.
  6. Rama 494:3 writes that the minhag is to eat dairy on Shavuot because by having a dairy meal one ensures that will have two loaves of bread, one for the dairy meal and one for the meat meal, and the two loaves of bread are in commemoration of the Shtei HaLechem brought in the Bet HaMikdash on Shavuot. Mishna Berura 494:12 says that this custom is in commemoration of the fact that the Jews only had dairy food immediately after matan torah because producing kosher meat would have taken long because they had just been commanded in the laws of slaughtering. Rav Moshe Shternbuch in Moadim U'zmanim 8:319 says that prior to matan torah, milk was a problem because it could have been considered "ever min hachai," eating from a live animal. Therefore we celebrate our first opportunity to eat dairy products which occurred at Matan Torah because if the torah in shemot 3:8 praises Israel for being a land filled with milk and honey it has to be that it is permissible for consumption.
  7. Magen Avraham (Intro to 494)
  8. Mishna Brurah 494:1
  9. Kaf HaChaim 494:1
  10. Mishna Brurah 494:1 writes that the practice is to stay up all night to learn. He quotes Arizal who said that one who learns all night on Shavuot will long the next year without being damaged. He also quotes the Magen Avraham who explains that since Bnei Yisrael overslept on the day of Matan Torah we stay up all night in order to rectify that mistake.
  11. Halichot Shlomo 12:3
  12. Magen Avraham (Intro to 494) quotes the Zohar that says that the early Chasidim would learn all of Shavuot night. Birkei Yosef 494:8, Mishna Brurah 494:1, Kaf HaChaim 494:6, and Aruch HaShulchan 494:3 also record this minhag.
  13. Regarding Netilat Yadayim and Birkot HaTorah, it’s clear that if they are to be made, they shouldn’t be said until Alot HaShachar. Nitai Gavriel 18:1 and 20:1 writes so explicitly. Regarding Birchot HaShachar, Kaf HaChaim 46:49 writes that one can say all of them at Chatzot, however, Piskei Teshuvot 46:14 rules that one should wait until Alot HaShachar. Regarding Tallit, S”A 18:3 rules that one may not make the Bracha until MeSheYakir.
    • The Rosh (Brachot 9:23) writes that the reason a person must wash his hands in the morning is that one's hands almost certainly touched an unclean area. The Rashba (responsa 1:191), on the other hand, writes that the reason is that a person is created anew each morning. The Bet Yosef 4:13 writes that according to the Rosh, one who stays up all night doesn't have to wash because one can ensure that his hands stay clean, while according to the Rashba, one is created anew whether he slept or not. Because of this dispute, S”A and Rama 4:13 rule that one should wash without a bracha. Magen Avraham 494, Taz 4:9, Beiur HaGra 4:13, Birkei Yosef 46:12, and Mishna Brurah 494:1 agree. See, the Bach 4, Aruch HaShulchan 4:12, and Maaseh Rav (#2) who argue that one who didn’t sleep can say the Bracha.
    • Hagahot Rabbi Akiva Eiger 4:12 writes that if one went to the bathroom, one can make the bracha. Olat Tamid 4:8, Eliyah Rabba 4:8, and Pri Megadim (E”A 494) agree. Artzot HaChaim 4:1 and Chaye Adam 7:6 seem to agree as well. Thus, Mishna Brurah 4:30 rules one should use the bathroom, thus dirtying his hands, wash his hands with a Bracha, and then say Asher Yatzar.
    • Some achronim (Nitai Gavriel 18:1, Weekly Halacha Discussion, vol 2, p. 363, Halachically Speaking vol 7, issue 6, p. 9) quote the Mishna Brurah as saying that one should use the bathroom and leave out dirtying one’s hands. Rabbi Mordechai Willig and Rabbi Hershel Schachter (cited by Halachipedia Article #22) explained that although the Mishna Brurah certainly meant to be precise, one can make the Bracha even if one merely touches an unclean area of the body.
    • Derech HaChaim 1:17 adds that even by touching an unclean area, one can make the Bracha. Beiur Halacha D”H Veyitlem agrees. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichot Shlomo 2:24), however, argues that it is insufficient to touch an unclean area.
    • Maamar Mordechai 4:8 disagrees with Rabbi Akiva Eiger because even according to the Rashba there is a doubt as to whether one is considered created anew if he didn’t sleep (see Magen Avraham 4:12). Kaf HaChaim 4:49 and Yalkut Yosef 4:9 agree.
    • The Tur and S”A 47:12 write that if one is learning at night one doesn't have to make new Birkot HaTorah as long as one didn't fall asleep. Beiur HaGra 47:12 explains that sleep is a hefsek and if one didn't sleep, one doesn't need new Brachot. Chaye Adam 9:9, Mishna Brurah 47:28, and Rabbi Hershel Schachter (cited in Bet Yitzchak vol 30, p. 592) agree but advise hearing them from someone who slept. Magen Avraham (47:12, 494) argues that essentially Birkot HaTorah are like Birkot HaShachar, which are said every day. He adds that it's preferable to hear them from someone who certainly is obligated. Eliyah Rabba 47:9, Birkei Yosef 46:12, and Aruch HaShulchan 47:23 concur. Kaf HaChaim 47:26 and Chazon Ovadyah (p. 312) write that the Sephardic minhag is to make Birkot HaTorah oneself.
    • Rama 46:8 writes that one may say all the Birkot HaShachar whether one experienced the event described in the particular Bracha or not. Although the S”A argues, Kaf HaChaim 46:49 writes that the Sephardic minhag is to follow the Rama.
    • Eliyah Rabba 46:12 quotes the Ateret Zekenim 46:3 who says that if one didn't sleep, one shouldn't say Elokai Nishama or HaMaavir Sheinah. Thus, Mishna Brurah 46:24 writes that one should hear these Brachot from someone who slept. However, Pri Megadim (E”A 46:2) wonders why Elokai Nishama and HaMaarvir Sheinah should be different than the other Birkot HaShachar. Aruch HaShulchan 46:13 rules that one may say these brachot even if he didn't sleep. Also, Birkei Yosef 46:12 and Yalkut Yosef 489:13 write that the Sephardic minhag is to say these Brachot even if one didn’t sleep.
  14. Although S”A 8:16 rules if one slept in one’s Tzitzit one should make a Bracha upon arising, the Bach 8:15, Taz 8:15, Eliyah Rabba 8:18, and Kaf HaChaim 8:61 argue that one shouldn’t make a Bracha. Magen Avraham 8:21 writes that one should have in mind that his bracha on the Talit should exempt his Talit Katan. Mishna Brurah 8:42 agrees. Rabbi Hershel Schachter (cited in Bet Yitzchak vol 30, p. 591) rules that if one doesn't have a Talit, he should hear the Bracha from someone else and feel his Tzitzit at the time of the Bracha.
  15. Hagahot Rabbi Akiva Eiger 47:12 writes that if one slept during the day prior to staying up all night, according to all opinions one has to recite Birkot HaTorah in the morning. Mishna Brurah 47:28 specifies that the sleep should be a Sheinat Kevah. Chatam Sofer (cited by Netah Sorek YD 63), Hilchot Chag BeChag (p. 131), and Rabbi Mordechai Willig (“Inyanei Chag Hashavuos”, min 48) agree. See Beirur Halacha (vol 7, p. 20) who quotes the Chazon Ish as questioning Rabbi Akiva Eiger.
  16. #netilat
  17. #birkothashachar
  18. #tzitzit
  19. Mishna Brurah 4:30, 494:1
  20. S”A 4:14 says that if one was awake from before Olot HaShachar and washed his hands earlier, he should wash again at Olot HaShachar without a Bracha because of Safek. Piskei Teshuvot 494:5 says once there’s an obligation to wash one’s hands one shouldn’t learn Torah.
  21. Kitzur S”A 2:8, Dinei Nieyor Kol HaLaylah (pg 42) in name of Rav Chaim Kanievsky
  22. Ishei Yisrael 2:33 note 110, Piskei Teshuvot 494:6
  23. Mishna Brurah 4:27, Ishei Yisrael 2:33
  24. Mishna Brurah 4:3
  25. S”A 8:16 rules that if one slept in Tzitzit one may make a new Bracha on it in the morning and at the time of the Bracha one should shake the Tzitzit strings. Mishna Brurah 8:42 explains that really this issue depends on whether there’s a mitzvah of Tzitzit at night and so it’s preferable to make the Bracha on a talit and cover the Bracha for Tzitzit. Piskei Teshuvot 8:30 adds that someone who that option is unavailable, such as bochrim who don’t wear talitim, should make the Bracha oneself like S”A.
  26. Mishna Brurah 47:28
  27. Mishna Brurah 47:28 in name of Rabbi Akvia Eiger
  28. Mishna Brurah 46:24
  29. Piskei Teshuvot 494:7
  30. Mishna Brurah 47:28