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I've been having this discussion with my friends and family about the Halacha of dividing Yom Tov into Chatzi LaHashem (half of the day devoted to prayer and learning) and Chatzi Lachem (half of the day devoted to eating, drinking, etc.). Do you know why so many people don't do this today? The Halacha is brought down in the Shulchan Aruch (529:1 with Mishna Berura 1, and Rambam, Laws of Yom Tov, 6:19). They each state that one should wake up early, Daven at sunrise and learn until midday.

This law is stated about Yom Tov in general. However, it does not appear to me that many actually do this. I wonder if anyone knows why this is so.

In addition, many have a custom to learn all night on Shavuos. However, they then go to sleep after eating in the morning. I wonder how this jives with the law above. Is it better to learn all night on Shavuos or to follow this law/Minhag?

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  • Sadly there are many halachos people are unaware of. Perhaps this is one of them? – DonielF Mar 21 '17 at 23:07
  • Which community is this speaking about? – TrustMeI'mARabbi May 14 '17 at 4:45
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    see here where rabbi eliezer melamed goes through calculations of how much to learn on shabbos - he certainly thinks that it applies ubiquitously nowadays: ph.yhb.org.il/en/01-05-01 – Moshe Steinberg Sep 11 '17 at 14:42
  • @MosheSteinberg Nice reference ! I was in R Melamed's yeshiva for a shabbat and can testify that it certainly works this way. Everyone in the community there learns six hours a shabbat (and 3 hours every weekday for those supported by the yeshiva while learning in university - it has a sort of kollel for university students) – mbloch Oct 13 '17 at 13:39
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In order for this halacha to work you need to have a minyan that prays early. That will depend on the will of the tzibur. Which is one obstacle to this halacha.

The halacha also says that they would eat (I'm assuming lightly) after prayers and then go learn. This means the prayers would need to end quickly. Aruch Hashulchan 529:2 immediately after mentioning this halacha complains about Chazanim who elongate the prayers, and adds it's not Chatzi Lashem and not Chatzi lachem (I guess he did not enjoy chazanut). He quotes the gemara that the tefila on Yom Tov needs to finish quickly (Megila 23a). Long davening is the second obstacle.

In my neighborhood we have an early minyan 7-9am, you can have a quick kiddush and learn from 9:15 to 1 and have a beautiful Yom Tov. Others pray 8-11 and do Chatzi lachem till about 4, and learn to the end of Yom Tov.

  • The question was why no one does this. You are answering that no one does it, since no one does it, so no one is up that early for a minyan. Rather circular. – mevaqesh Nov 10 '17 at 20:02
  • Hi Moses, I think that what people do in your town is awesome! I also know of a few places where this is done by some (Far Rockaway, West Hempstead and Hollywood Florida come to mind). However, my question was does anyone know of a source for those who don't do this? Thanks!! – Rodney Feinerman Aug 23 '18 at 11:48
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There are a few reasons. One is because most people don't want to get up that early. Two, the "main" minyan of most shuls has become quite involved - singing, long mishebeirachs, a drasha from the Rav - these things may add up to an hour to the davening time. So the davening now goes for instance from 8:30-noon. For these people, they are indeed giving Hashem His chazti. They then go home and take theirs.

  • Welcome to MY. Since MY is different from other sites you might be used to, see here for a guide which might help understand the site. Please consider registering your account, to enable more site features, including voting. – mbloch Dec 5 '17 at 7:24
  • Hi User..., I'm not really sure if you answered my question. I was really asking if there is a Halachik reason why this law isn't followed. The fact that people don't want is not really sufficient. As to your second point, I'm not sure that your math works. According to the sources that I cited, we're supposed to consider sunrise to sunset. If shul starts at 8:30 and sunrise is before this, that time is added to the calculation. 8:30-noon is 3 and a half hours. In the vast majority of cities, this is not half of the day. – Rodney Feinerman Aug 23 '18 at 11:45
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To answer the second question, I don't think that when Halacha says Chatzi Lashem and Lachem it means you have to have exactly 12 and a half hours for both sides, rather you have to set aside time for both Hashem and yourself to properly enjoy the Holy Yom Tov. It is a way to combine the holy day and what it represents and to enjoy the physicality of this world. Thus, the Minhag was that you learned for half the day and you enjoyed yourself for half the day. However, on Shavuos where we have a special Minhag to learn all night, this still falls into this Halacha by Yom Tov. By learning all night, you are devoting yourself to Hashem and in order to not be tired for the rest of Yom Tov, you take a nap. Once you are up, you eat a lavish meal with your family and fulfill Chatzi Lachem. Plus, the rest of your afternoon is free to learn.

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    Welcome to MiYodeya Aharon and thanks for this first answer. Since MY is different from other sites you might be used to, see here for a guide which might help understand the site. One of the feature of MY is its reliance on sources - since we don't know you. Welcome again and great to have you learn with us! – mbloch Jul 27 '18 at 23:02

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