May 31, 2006

Staying up all night on Shavuos

Yes, I am planning on staying up all night on Shavuos to learn. If I am successful, it will continue my streak of about 20 years or so of staying up all night (I never actually counted and do not recall when I began staying up all night learning. I simply calculated from my bar mitzva and assumed that because that is when I began my yeshiva career, that is probably when I began staying up all night, though it might have been one or two years earlier or one or two years later).

I am sure some of those years I stayed up learning more and some less. Some I probably would have done better sleeping at night and some not. Bute every year I stayed up. Also, every year by the end of the night I say to myself that this is the last time I do this and next year I am going to sleep at night. By the end of the night many people, myself included, are sleeping through much of davening, definitely the parts of akdamus (why do we say that anyway? I don't think anybody knows what it means or why we say it..) and Ruth and Torah reading, if not other parts as well. The last hour or two of learning, even if one learned very well until then, is often spent trying to find something to nosh on, something to talk about, something to keep you awake. Not much actual learning.

So, every year before Shavuos I debate whether I am going to stay up this year or not. This year I have not yet debated it in my mind, but just assume I will as a fait accompli.

Is that the way it should be? Is it better to stay up all night, most of the time learning, if it will adversely affect your ability to function during davening or function the next day? Is it better, perhaps to learn part of the night, go to sleep and wake up at a normal time to daven properly? Maybe learn all night and then go to sleep for a few hours at alos and wake up later to daven (my shul is having that option for a second minyan this year) properly?

I do not have the answer. But I will be staying up this year again.


  1. Since you have such a long track record it would be a shame to stop now, nevertheless your questions are valid ones.
    I think that since Shavuos is the special TORAH holiday that perhaps that would allow for extra Torah time even if Shacharis is going to be a lets-get-it-over-with-fast Teffilah.
    Personally I did it once or twice and am thinking about staying up this year too.

  2. that must be it, and have thought about that as the reason as well. We are implored to learn Torah Shavuos night even if it means being deficient in other areas temporarily..

  3. Good questions- I am not sure that there is a right or wrong answer to them.

  4. I've heard the question before. I say do it regardless. See here.

  5. I will do it... this year for sure..
    but the question is still a good question..

  6. I say just learn. I, personally, stay up, but it's only a minhag (I believe). Hashem wants us to attach ourselves to his Torah. The person who goes to Daf Yomi every night, but doesn't stay up for Shavuos is as kodesh to Hashem as anyone else. Some are not big supporters of Tikul Leil Shavuos b/c it kills learning for the next two days (outside Israel). I think back to times in high school/college/single life when I pulled an "all nighter" for the silliest reasons. If you're going to stay up, Torah is a great reason to do so.

  7. Ohr Somayach has a nice little piece on akdamus (link comes from Rav Zev Kahn's "JET":


  8. zevy - thanks - will check it out

  9. R' Cohen has said for a number of years, that if you sleep away the rest of shavous, you are defeating the purpose of staying up at night. BH I have stayed up every year since yeshiva. I have also been able to waste my shavous away without being able to blame staying Actually, I usually lain at the first minyan and go back and lain again at the second. Regardless, for me shavous night means I go to a shiur and learn some torah, something I certainley don't normally do.

    chag sameach all!

  10. Hope you made it through the night !

  11. Shaya - learn well..

    Dreams - I did, and I slept through Akdamus!

  12. me and you rafi - i was reading/laining akdamus and slept thru it!!!!


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