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Sleeplessness on Shavuot

Have you ever participated in a Tikkun Leil Shavuot—literally, a Shavuot night watch? Much like high school or college students who pull “all-nighters” studying for exams, on Shavuot, which begins tonight, we can all join in a similar experience as we stay up all night studying the Torah and other topics related to Judaism. Siân Gibby, a blogger and copy editor, who never pulled all-nighters as a student, writes in Tablet Magazine about how her abhorrence to staying up all night is precisely what makes Shavuot so special for her.

As a Jew-by-choice, Gibby finds resonance in Shavuot because of its mystical nature. She finds power in the idea that she stood at Sinai, which to her means that she is “no less a Jew than my rabbi, or Barbra Streisand. Like them, I was at Sinai.” Gibby attributes her ability to suspend disbelief and attain the cognitive state needed to experience standing at Sinai to the sleeplessness caused by participating in a Tikkun Leil Shavuot.

Do you agree with Gibby that there is a mystic nature to Shavuot? If you have participated in a Tikkun Leil Shavut, how has the altered cognitive state of sleeplessness contributed to your experience?

However you decide to celebrate, we hope you come away with a deeper understanding of the Torah, Jewish community, and what it means to be a part of the Jewish people. Since we were all at Sinai, the giving of the Torah – and now the celebration of Shavuot – is a time to make sure all those in our midst are welcomed and included. Our willingness to welcome in all who approach has helped sustain us for thousands of years. During the upcoming holiday, let’s make sure our doors continue to stay open so that many “strangers” may walk through it.

Chag Sameach! (Happy Holidays!)



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