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 '19 at 21:53
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    @Alex Your comment appears to imply that you live in Israel. – DanF May 6 '19 at 15:28
  • Extra dose of learning before shabbas ,since Friday is usally not that most productive day in learning – sam May 6 '19 at 15:56
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    @DanF even in the Diaspora most Jewish schools have shortened days on Friday. – Double AA May 6 '19 at 17:48

"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

  • 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 '19 at 13:44
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    I really don't like this theory at all... – רבות מחשבות May 7 '19 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 '19 at 14:36
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    yes............ – Heshy May 7 '19 at 16:01
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    But this is only for people who find it easy and beneficial to fast! If you're in that category, making a fast defeats the purpose. – Heshy May 7 '19 at 20:34

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