What is the sources for the practice to stay up late learning torah on Thursday nights? When or how did this practice develop and spread? And why is it called a mishmar? Is this a common name for a seder limud?

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    If you stay up late on a regular night you might ruin the next day. If the next day is Friday it doesn't matter.
    – Alex
    May 2, 2019 at 21:53
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    @Alex Your comment appears to imply that you live in Israel.
    – DanF
    May 6, 2019 at 15:28
  • Extra dose of learning before shabbas ,since Friday is usally not that most productive day in learning
    – sam
    May 6, 2019 at 15:56
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    @DanF even in the Diaspora most Jewish schools have shortened days on Friday.
    – Double AA
    May 6, 2019 at 17:48

3 Answers 3


The sefer חמדת ימים (שב"ק פ"א) writes very great things (kabbalistic) about learning ליל ששי (Thursday night), the יסוד ושורש העבודה (ח"ב ש"ח פרק א') brings from kisvei ari"zal the same.

  • Who wrote the sefer ?
    – Moshe
    Jun 27, 2021 at 22:07
  • חמדת ימים was written by r' binyomin halevy from tsefas (lived approx. 450 years ago), there is actually quiet a controversy as to who exactly he was. but there are a few things that chassidim in particular do that come from there (including saying לדוד ד' אורי during אלול)
    – yih613
    Jun 28, 2021 at 0:13
  • It's not the one that nathan the nazirate wrote ?
    – Moshe
    Jun 28, 2021 at 1:09
  • some believed so, but there is a whole sefer אוצר חמדת ימים (otzar hachochma has it) dedicated to proving that it's actually from the aforementioned r' binyomin halevy.
    – yih613
    Jun 28, 2021 at 14:53

The practical reason I am familiar with is that in yeshivos, night seder is typically reserved for reviewing that day's shiur. On Thursdays, students review the entire week in addition to Thursday's shiur, which takes more time. In high school, there would be tests on Friday.


"Why learn late thursday night?" To avoid a fast. The most religious among us love to fast from Thursday evening to Friday evening, in order (for them) to enjoy (more) the delight/the oneg of Shabbat celebration. Those among us, however, who are unable to fast or do not want to fast (especially from Thursday evening meal), arrange to learn Torah or a tractate of the Talmud (late into Thursday night), with the express idea of concluding with a seudat mitzvah, which takes precedence over a fast, or thereby avoiding a fast.

UPDATE (for the benefit of various comments): Some pious Jews also fast every Monday and Thursday in commemoration of the destruction of the Temple, of the burning of the Torah .... The first and second Mondays and the first Thursday of Iyyar and of Marḥeshwan, following the festivals of Passover and of Sukkot respectively, are recognized fasts in most Jewish communities, and were originally instituted to atone for the sins that might have been committed in the pursuit of pleasure during the holidays (Ḳid. 81a; Tos., s.v. "Soḳobo"; Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 492). .... many fast during all the ten penitential days (Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 581, 2, Isserles' gloss). Some pious Jews fast every Friday, so as to partake of the Sabbath meal with a hearty appetite (ib. 249, 3). http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/6033-fasting-and-fast-days

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    From what I have experienced from attending numerous mishmarim for my children and I, food tends to be abundant at these events and I have yet to see this considered a siyum or seudat mitzvah. Chulent and kugel, which were considered "Shabbat only" food began appearing as Thursday mishmar standards as of about 20 years ago. So, I'd really like to see a source that supports this answer, as it totally contradicts every notion that I have ever seen about mishmar and food.
    – DanF
    May 7, 2019 at 13:44
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    I really don't like this theory at all... May 7, 2019 at 13:46
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    I've never heard of fasting on Friday for oneg Shabbos. I have heard of the opposite: sefaria.org/Mishnah_Taanit.4.3
    – Heshy
    May 7, 2019 at 14:36
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    Yes, your answer references fasting on Thursday night and Friday, and the mishnah says they don't fast on Friday. Are you saying it's somehow better if you fast Thursday night too?
    – Heshy
    May 7, 2019 at 15:27
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    – Heshy
    May 7, 2019 at 16:01

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