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Q & A: Staying Awake Shavuot Night


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HaNoten LeYaef Koach: A person should recite this blessing even if he is very tired since this is not a personal prayer. It is a general prayer, praising Hashem who created a world which includes the removal of tiredness (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 46 and 47 with Mishnah Berurah sk22 and 28). Chassidim recite all of the morning blessings even if they remain awake all night (Shulchan Aruch Harav 47:7 and Siddur Chabad).

Birkat HaTorah: There is a dispute whether these blessings should be recited if one remains awake all night. One option is that one make the following stipulation the morning before Shavuot: “The blessings that I now recite should count for the following day as well.” The other option is that one hear the blessings from someone who slept and who will be motzi him (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 47:12 with Mishnah Berurah sk25-28). If neither of these options are available, one may recite the blessings based on the Sha’agat Aryeh (Responsa 24-25) who maintains that saying these blessings is a biblical mitzvah and in cases of doubt concerning biblical matters, we act strictly. This ruling is found in Rav Kook’s commentary to the siddur, Olat Re’eiyah (vol. 1, p. 59 note 5) and in Rav Ovadiah Yosef’s responsa (Yabia Omer vol. 5, Orach Chayim 6 and Yechaveh Daat 3:33).

Women and Birkat HaTorah: Women are required to recite these blessings. Since women are not obligated to learn Torah, how can they say, “Blessed is Hashem…who commanded us to engage in words of Torah”? The Magen Avraham (Orach Chayim 47 sk14) argues that they may do so since they are required to learn laws that apply to them. The Brisker Rav (Griz, to the Rambam, at the end of Hilchot Berachot, p. 10) and Rav Kook (Orach Mishpat 11, 2) offer a completely different explanation. They argue that these blessings are not ordinary blessings that one says before performing a mitzvah; rather, they are blessings of praise. If the Torah had not been given, the world as we know it would be in darkness. This would be the case for both men and women. Women therefore thank Hashem for the Torah’s presence in the world.

May we experience a joyous yom tov with complete kabbalat haTorah that will lead to the geulah sheleimah speedily in our days.

Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.

About the Author: Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.


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Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

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