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Why is it that people do not do Tikun Chatzos in today's day and age? I am sure there are still a few special people that do say it; however, I am also sure that over 99% do not.

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In Breslev, we are particular to (try and) say it. I feel like there is another Chasidus that says it but I can't remember which one. –  yoel Sep 28 '11 at 23:56
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Go to the kotel around halachic midnight. Actually, there are two times for Tikun Chatzos: one is halachic midnight (the mid-point of the night time, changes by a few minutes everyday). Another time, practiced by Breslev and some other Chassidim, is six hours after nightfall, which makes "chatzos" as late as 3am in the summer in some locations. Anyway, go to the kotel at "chatzos" according to either calculation, and you'll see plenty of people doing it. –  user1095 Mar 13 '12 at 7:30
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Here is an interesting article, that might explain the lack of the practice today: bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16964783 –  avi Mar 13 '12 at 10:24
    

6 Answers 6

Maybe because most people go to sleep much later than they used to? Before electric lighting people might have gone to bed around nightfall or shortly after (i.e., 6 or 7 PM), and might well wake up for a little while in the middle of the night (as in the article linked in Avi's comment); whereas nowadays it's common to stay up until 10 PM or later, and sleep straight through the night.

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An interesting thought –  Gershon Gold Oct 5 '10 at 15:53
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Thou because of lighting, some people stay up past midnight. –  Shmuel Brin Jan 29 '12 at 17:33
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I would suggest updating your answer based on this: bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16964783 –  avi Mar 13 '12 at 10:24
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@avi I think this article and the studies it mentions, if they are in fact historically accurate (and they might well be), would really shed a lot of light on so many things in Talmudic literature, Midrashim, etc. I mean, think about Mitzrayim. Why would all the dead Mitzrim be noticed in the middle of the night instead of in the morning? Perhaps they didn't wake up when the families were waking, or perhaps they were awake and collapsed? Whoa. Mind=blown. –  Seth J Mar 13 '12 at 15:45
    
@SethJ thats what I thought when I read the article. IF you do a google search for "second sleep" , it seems very well founded. –  avi Mar 13 '12 at 16:51

There are a few reasons:

  1. People say it privately, just because you don't see it means it doesn't exist.

  2. It was always meant more for special people (yechidei sgulah)

  3. As we approach Moshiach, Tshuva should be done only from joy and not from bitterness. (Source: the speech "Margala b'puma d'rava..." from the Lubavitcher rebbe, 5746.)
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Who's "rava"? –  msh210 Mar 13 '12 at 15:34
    
@msh210 like Abaye –  Shmuel Brin Mar 13 '12 at 18:52
    
Ah, I thought you were referring to some more modern rava (rabbi), from 5746. Thanks for editing in the link. I'm editing for clarity.... –  msh210 Mar 13 '12 at 18:55
    
What's your source for "It was always meant more for special people (yechidei sgulah)"? –  Danny Schoemann Sep 17 at 8:06

I'm not sure at what point but in Chabad "Kriyas Shema Al Mita" replaced Tikkun Chatzos. At the end of Kriyas Shema Al Mita it says "wake me up in the middle of the night etc..." alluding to Tikkun Chatzos and those sentences have no nekudos and are not read. Source: Nusach Ari-Zal Chabad.

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Sorry, but what is your source that k'rias "sh'ma" replaced tikun chatzos? –  msh210 Mar 13 '12 at 6:36
    
That sentence is asking Hashem to help us wake up for tikkun chatzos, which implies that it and kerias Shema are two different things. (It is true that in more recent siddurim that line is unvoweled, but I suspect that that's precisely because most people don't get up for tikkun chatzos, so it would be a prayer in vain.) –  Alex Mar 13 '12 at 14:50
    
@Alex - What is wrong with a prayer if that prayer is to help one serve Hashem? I thought that Nedarim like that are considered chizuk b'alma and not problematic in the first place because we made a vow at Har Sinai when there was the national Kabbalas HaTorah. –  Adam Mosheh Mar 13 '12 at 15:51
    
There are sichos from the Rebbe, I will try to find specific ones. The Rebbe Rashab in Ch.11 of Kuntres HaTefillah speaks about Tikkun Chatzos even less frequently then the Alter Rebbe. I would like your source that the lack of vowels and lack of tikkun chatzos in newer publishings of Tehillahs Hashem is a printer choice and not based on what the Rebbe said. The Alter Rebbe even says in his S.A. that if your day is affected because of Tikkun Chatzos it is best not to say it or at least only say it once a week. –  user1292 Mar 13 '12 at 16:08
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@mochinrechavim, until recent editions of the siddur the entire prayer was unvocalized, so any distinction between this sentence and the rest of the prayer must be of recent vintage. Perhaps it's based on a sicha of the Rebbe's; that I don't know. If you can find any sources, I'd be grateful. –  Alex Mar 13 '12 at 16:22

Rabbi Yissochor Frand qoutes Harav Isser Zalman Meltzer in regards to davening vasikin (which halachically is more significant) that mainstream judiasm has stopped emphasizing vasikin because it leaves people too tired to learn well the rest of the day.

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Which is not a very good excuse, especially in mid-Winter when there's only a few minutes difference between the early minyan and the earlier Vasikin one. Nor is it a good excuse when on vacation, or on Sundays. (Was a great excuse before summer-time was instituted.) –  Danny Schoemann Sep 17 at 14:34

Amongst Sefaradi and Sefaradi Mekubalim it is very common. For the exact procedure, there is actually a Mahloket Aharonim. The Hida created a prayer called "Oy Li" while it seems that R' Yaakov Hilel Shelit"a quoting the Ben Ish Hai is opposed to it, but otherwise it is all the same (see Shaare Tefila 1:1. Ben Ish Hai Wayeshev 13. More Baesba 2:45. Amud HaHoraa 2:23).

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Firstly, as has been mentioned, Sefardim (Eidot HaMizrach) do say it, as that is how their Shacaharit begins. See the order here - and notice how it comes right after ברכות השחר and ברכות התורה.

During the 3 weeks it's not unusual (in Jerusalem) to see people sitting on the steps of the Aaron HaKodesh before Mincha Gedola reciting Tikun Chatzos.

Secondly, since Ashkenazim usually do it at home, nobody sees it and the newcomers to Judaism, and those whose train of Mesora was disrupted by WWII, don't realize it exists.

Thirdly, since once sees many meticulous people around at midnight and they don't drop everything to say Tikun Chatzos, so one assumes it is not being said. However, Tikun Chatzos is somewhat of a misnomer, as you already noticed by the Sefardim's custom.

Let's look at אhe Shulchan Aruch. We don't have to go far - it's at the beginning - Orach Chaim 1:2:

ב הַמַּשְׁכִּים לְהִתְחַנֵּן לִפְנֵי בּוֹרְאוֹ, יְכַוֵּן לַשָּׁעוֹת שֶׁמִּשְׁתַּנּוֹת הַמִּשְׁמָרוֹת שֶׁהֵן בִּשְׁלִישׁ הַלַּיְלָה וּלְסוֹף שְׁנֵי שְׁלִישֵׁי הַלַּיְלָה וּלְסוֹף הַלַּיְלָה, שֶׁהַתְּפִלָּה שֶׁיִּתְפַּלֵּל בְּאוֹתָן הַשָּׁעוֹת עַל הַחֻרְבָּן וְעַל הַגָּלוּת, רְצוּיָה. ‏

Auspicious times for mourning the destruction are at ⅓ and ⅔ of the night, as well as the end of the night.

And then in 1:3:

ג רָאוּי לְכָל יְרֵא שָׁמַיִם שֶׁיְּהֵא מֵיצֵר וְדוֹאֵג עַל חֻרְבַּן בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ. ‏

It's appropriate for every Gcd fearing person to be sad and mourn the destruction [daily].

The easiest time for Tikun Chatzos is right before day break; it's quiet, it's not interrupting anything and you anyway need to be awake then, as it says in Shulchan Aruch (ibid 1:1)

א יִתְגַּבֵּר כַּאֲרִי לַעֲמֹד בַּבֹּקֶר לַעֲבוֹדַת בּוֹרְאוֹ שֶׁיְּהֵא הוּא מְעוֹרֵר הַשַּׁחַר:‏

If you ask so why at midnight, my guess is that there's a Machloket about שָּׁעוֹת שֶׁמִּשְׁתַּנּוֹת הַמִּשְׁמָרוֹת in Brachot 3a, and one opinion has it (also) happening at midnight. The Aruch Hashulchan (ibid) answers similarly and also suggests that maybe midnight is auspicious especially for mourning but not for other things. says:

כ וכתבו הטור והשולחן ערוך סעיף ב: ‏ המשכים להתחנן לפני בוראו – יכוין לשעות שמשתנות המשמרות, שהם בשליש הלילה, ולבסוף שני שלישי הלילה, ולבסוף הלילה. שהתפילה שיתפלל באותן השעות על החורבן והגלות – רצויה. עד כאן לשונו. ודבר זה מבואר ממה שאמרו בריש ברכות, דעל כל משמר שואג כביכול כארי, כדכתיב: ''ה' ממרום ישאג... שאוג ישאג על נוהו''. ‏

והנה לתירוץ הראשון בגמרא (ג א) דקחשיב אמצעית דאמצעיתא – אתי שפיר, דחשיב גם חצות בהדייהו. אבל לתירוץ השני דסוף משמרות קחשיב, הא דלא תני חצות בהדייהו משום דחצות הוי עת רצון לכל מילי, והני תלתא אינם אלא על חורבן בית המקדש. ולכן מה שהאריכו חכמי הקבלה דחצות הוא עת רצון לבקש רחמים על החורבן ועל כנסת ישראל, אתי שפיר גם לפי הגמרא דחצות הוא עת רצון לכל דבר. ‏

ולחינם טרחו המפרשים. ועיין מגן אברהם סעיף קטן ד, שכתב דלתירוץ השני הגמרא חולקת על זה, עיין שם. ולעניות דעתי אינו כן. ודייק ותמצא קל.) ‏

The Aruch HaShulchan (ibid) brings some background, for those who want earlier sources.

כא וכתב רבינו הבית יוסף סעיף ג: ראוי לכל ירא שמים שיהא מיצר ודואג על חורבן בית המקדש. עד כאן לשונו, ונראה דאדלעיל קאי, על השלוש משמרות. וזהו מלשון הרא''ש, שכתב על הך דשלוש משמרות וזה לשונו: ‏

וראוי לכל ירא שמים שיהא מיצר ודואג באותה שעה, ולשפוך תחנונים על חורבן בית המקדש, כמו שנאמר: ''קומי רוני בלילה לראש אשמורות, שפכי כמים לבך...''. עד כאן לשונו, וגם זה שכתב אחר כך בסעיף ד: טוב מעט תחנונים בכוונה מהרבות בלא כוונה. עד כאן לשונו – גם כן אהך עניינא קאי, על חורבן בית המקדש. והוא מדברי הטור שכתב על הך דשלוש משמרות, וזה לשונו: ‏

והתפילה שיתפלל באותה שעה על החורבן – רצויה... אחד המרבה ואחד הממעיט, ובלבד שיכוין לבו בתחנוניו. כי טוב מעט בכוונה מהרבות בהם שלא בכוונה. עד כאן לשונו, כלומר: כגון שיש לו שעה לומר תחנונים ולא יותר – לא יאמר הרבה תחנונים בלא כוונה, וטוב יותר מעט ובכוונת הלב. והוא הדין בכל הדברים, כמו בלימוד תורה, באמירת תהלים, וכיוצא בהם: טוב מעט בכוונה מהרבה שלא בכוונה. ‏

ועל דעת חכמי הקבלה עיקר התיקון הוא בחצות לילה, וכמו שנדפס בסידורים. וגם לפי הגמרא כן הוא, כמו שכתבתי בסעיף הקודם. וחצות הוא באמצע הלילה, שנים עשר שעות אחר חצות היום, בין בקיץ בין בחורף. וכן הסכימו רוב גדולי ישראל, וכן עיקר. ‏

The Aruch Hashulchan ends of explaining that mentioning Jerusalem in the Amida and Birkat HaMazon is not sufficient to fulfil this obligation.

אבל אין כוונת הבית יוסף לעוררינו לזכור חורבן בית המקדש דפשיטא, שהרי בשמונה עשרה שלוש ברכות קבועות לזה: ''ולירושלים'', ''את צמח'', ''רצה...''. וגם בברכת המזון ברכה קבועה לזה. וקודם ברכת המזון נוהגין לומר ''על נהרות בבל'' ובשבת ויום טוב וראש חודש ''שיר המעלות''. וכמה זכרונות אנו עושין לחורבן בית המקדש, ובפרט בימי המצרים. ומי הוא האיש הישראלי אשר ישכחנה? אלא כוונתו על הזמן דמשמרות, וכמו שכתבתי. ודייק ותמצא קל.) ‏

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