Hilchot U’Minhagei Shavuot

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The following is meant as a convenient review of Halakhot pertaining to Shavuot. The Piskei Din for the most part are based purely on the sugyot, Shulchan Aruch and Ramah, and the Mishna Berurah, unless stated otherwise. They are based on my understanding of the aforementioned texts through the teachings of my Rebbeim. As individual circumstances are often important in determining the psak in specific cases, and as there may be different approaches to some of the issues, one should always check with one’s Rav first.

Note: When Shavuot falls on Motzei Shabbos, special care should be made not to start any preparations for Shavuot before complete nightfall. Likewise, special care should be taken to leave a “yahrtzeit” candle burning from Erev Shabbos so as to be able to kindle Yom-Tov candles on Shavuot night. It is advisable to use a 48 hour “yahrtzeit” candle and to light two in order to ensure having a flame available. Also, on the first night of Shavuot following Shabbos, we make havdalah in Kiddush (yaknahaz). 

Shavuot Night:

  1. On Shavuot Night one should wait for nightfall to daven Maariv.
    1. The reason for this is to ensure that the 50 days of Sfiras Haomer are complete.
      1. There are those who are makpid to wait until nightfall according to Rabeinu Tam (72 minutes after sunset) etc. Many only wait until calendar (number of minutes after sunset may vary depending on location) nightfall even if they are makpid on Rabeinu Tam for Motzei Shabbos.
  2. Kiddush Lel-Shavuot is the regular Yom-Tov Kiddush, including Shehechiyanu (in Chutz LaAretz both days)
  3. The Seuda Lel-Shavuot is a regular Yom-Tov Seuda.
    1. As it is more important to eat meat Shavuot day there are those that are Noheg to eat their “dairy Seuda” Lel Shavuot.
      1. Most eat a regular Yom-Tov meat meal.
  4. There is a minhag to stay up LEARNING Lel-Shavuot until sunrise, and to Daven with sunrise (the Ben Ish Chai and other Seforim explain based on Ari Z’L that the main point of staying up is to daven Netz. The Ben Ish Chai maintains that Musaf should also be davened before going to sleep).
    1. There are those who go to sleep and wake up before Sunrise in order to learn a little, and at least to daven with the Sunrise.
      1. The Minhag of staying Lel-Shavuot is based on the idea that we are trying to make up for the fact that Klal-Yisroel slept on the day of Kabbolas HaTorah. If this is the case, Davening Neitz (with Sunrise) would also be a way to compensate for that earlier failure.
      2. There is a minhag amongst some of the Chasidim to stay up all night learning, but to go to sleep at dawn. Then they daven Shacharis at a regular time.
        1. This minhag is also attempting to fix the same mishap of Klal-Yisroel sleeping late, but there is a fear that if one davens Shacharis after an all-nighter one will be sleepy and not daven properly.
        2. R’ Tzadok Hakohen explain that there wasn’t any issue with Klal-Yisroel sleeping late on the day they received the Torah (Pri Tzadik on Shavuot). Reb Tzadok Hakohen explains that they didn’t sleep an ordinary sleep rather they were experiencing a prophecy like revelation (that they could only receive in a state of slumber). Reb Tzadok further explains that the reason we stay up Lel Shavuot to learn is to attempt to reach the high levels of Kedusha that Am-Yisroel reached through the aforementioned trance. As such it is accepted by many Chasidim that the main tikun is staying up the whole night learning. Even though the optimum time to daven Shacharis would be with the Netz since people are likely tired the minhag amongst many Chasidim is to go to sleep after Alos and to daven later on in the morning after having a nap.
        3. Even someone who davens Netz every morning can go to sleep and Daven later if they are too tired to daven with the Netz.
  5. There are varying Minhagim as to what a person should learn on Lel-Shavuot:
    1. One of these consists of the traditional Tikun Lel Shavuot. The Tikun is made up of beginnings and ends of the Sifrei Tanach and parts of Torah She Baal Peh. It’s supposed to serve as an “abridged version” of the “entire Torah”.
    2. Another approach is the more Yeshiva oriented style of having a Seder in Gemarah Lel-Shavuot. The argument is made that however traditional the Tikun is, it still isn’t “real” learning as a person isn’t necessarily working towards understanding material, and a person is unlikely to retain much from it.
    3. Yet another option is Shiurim and ‘learn what you want’ style learning. Due to the late hours and the lack of sleep some people prefer to listen to a good speaker, or to read Torah that they find particularly interesting.
      1. If one follows the minhag of doing the Tikun, one should not deviate from it unless one feels that Shavuot will be more meaningful and fulfilling by switching to some other learning formula. When one doesn’t have a particular minhag, one should choose the learning approach that is the most productive for that particular individual.

Birchot HaShachar after staying up all night:

  1. Tzitzit: There is some disagreement as to whether someone wearing daytime clothing at night is obligated in Tzitzit or not. Therefore we wear our tzitzit throughout the night if we are staying up all night (in daytime garb). Since we don’t take off our tzitzit, and as we may have had the obligation of wearing tzitzit the whole time we don’t make a Bracha on tzitzit in the morning. Consequently, one should have in mind when making the Bracha on the Tallit to be motzi the tzitzit as well.
    1. Someone who doesn’t wear a Tallit should ask someone who does to say the Bracha on Tallit out loud and to be motzi them as well (for their tzitzit/tallit katan).
  2. Birchas HaTorah: many Poskim maintain that someone who stays up the whole night learning (unless they slept a half hour) should not say Birch as HaTorah.
    1. It is best to hear Birchat HaTorah from someone who did sleep
      1. When one is being Yotzei Birchat HaTorah from someone else, that person should say/learn (or at least listen to someone learning) something (pesukim and Torah SheBaal Peh) right after hearing the brachot.
    2. If someone doesn’t have the opportunity to hear Birchas HaTorah from someone who slept he should have in mind by birchas Ahava Raba/Ahavas Olam (of Shacharit) to be Yotzei with that blessing his obligation of Birchas HaTorah.
      1. As soon as he finishes Shacharit he should say/learn some pesukim and some Torah SheBaal Peh.
      2. It is also advisable to try to have one of the olim L’Torah to have in mind to be motzi you in their Birchas HaTorah on the Torah reading (you should then be Yotzei your pesukim with the laining, and between the Aliyot you should learn some Torah SheBaal Peh).
  3. Al Netilat Yadayim and Asher Yatzar: Whether someone who stayed up the whole night should make these brachot it is a matter of debate. In such a situation, it is therefore preferable for one to first use the facilities and then wash one’s hands and make these brachot.
  4. The rest of Birchos Hashachar: it seems to be the consensus of the Poskim that Birchas Elokai Neshama and Hamaavir should not be recited by someone who didn’t sleep. Therefore these brachos should ideally be heard from someone who slept, and otherwise they should be omitted (if someone didn’t hear Hamaavir from someone who hadn’t slept it could be that they may make the Brocho after napping during morning hours – one should ask one’s own Rov).
    1. The rest of Birchot HaShachar can be recited even if a person didn’t sleep at all.
      1. As there are minority opinions that even many of the other birchot HaShachar should not be recited by someone who didn’t sleep the minhag in many places has become to be Yotzei even the rest of the brachot from someone who slept.
        • (1) There are many opinions that it is still best to say the rest of the Brachot oneself.
        • (2) Either way – Yesh Al Mi Lismoch.

Seudat Shavuot:

  1. There is a minhag to eat dairy on Shavuot.
    1. Some are Noheg to wash, to have dairy, then to drink something Pareve and eat a pareve solid, and then eat meat all in the same meal.
      1. The Zohar maintains that even in this fashion one should not eat dairy followed by meat in the same meal or even meat in close time proximity to dairy.
      2. Some of the Chasidish Sefarim maintain that even the Zohar would allow one to eat dairy followed by meat in the same meal on Shavuot (after eating something solid and drinking in between).
    2. There are those that have dairy meals Leil-Shavuot and not Shavuot day.
      1. This is because they maintain that the obligation of eating meat on Yom-Tov is attributed to Simchat Yom-Tov. The main Simchat Yom-Tov is at day.
    3. There are those who have two separate Seudot on Shavuot day – Dairy and meat.
    4. There are those who have a dairy Kiddush, and then have a meat meal.
  2. It is very important to remember that if someone eats hard cheeses they must wait as long as they wait after eating meat before consuming dairy.
    1. Any cheese that has been aged or that is hard and has significant holes in it should be considered hard cheese.
      1. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and Rav Eliyashiv maintained that one should wait after eating yellow cheese (or cheeses like cheddar and Mozzarella).
        • (1) It seems that they felt that: although nowadays these cheeses aren’t aged the Minhag has already become to wait after consuming these cheeses. Thus since the minhag in most communities is not to wait (after consuming such cheeses), and as these cheeses do not meet the criteria of hard cheeses many poskim maintain there is no need to wait 5 or 6 hours after such cheeses.