Should an ordinary Jew endeavor to say Tikkun Chatzos?
If not regularly, perhaps sometimes?
Tikkun Chatzos was not instituted for “special Jews.” It was instituted for everyone. However, for some reason, saying it has fallen out of practice among the majority of people.
A person reciting Tikkun Chatzos, therefore, who is not known to be fastidious in other areas of Judaism would appear to be haughty. (Even saying it privately would be problematic since haughtiness in one’s heart is also prohibited.)
Saying Tikkun Chatzos is also a bad idea for someone who thinks doing so will compensate for deficiencies in other areas of observance that require more immediate attention.
However, if a person feels that reciting Tikkun Chatzos privately will enhance his avodas Hashem by making him more aware of what we lack in galus and making him feel the pain of the Shechinah and Klal Yisrael – and will be an incentive for him to lead his life more geared toward restoring the Beis HaMikdash and the Shechinah – then reciting Tikkun Chatzos at least sometimes is very praiseworthy.
— Rabbi Zev Leff, rav of Moshav
Matisyahu, popular lecturer and educator
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One should endeavor to say Tikkun Chatzot only if one feels a spiritual need for these midnight prayers.
The texts lamenting the destruction of the ancient Temples and the “exile of the Shechinah” may be meaningful to various individuals, especially those influenced by kabbalistic practice. Many people, though, will not feel the need to say Tikkun Chatzot. Their religious life is full enough without participating in this kabbalistic tradition. For them, waking up to recite midnight lamentations is unnecessary, unfulfilling, and counter-productive.
It is better to conduct one’s daily life with the steady consciousness of Hashem’s presence. Instead of excessive crying for what has been lost, it is preferable to pray for and work for a restoration of proper religious life in our society.
When I was a student in yeshiva, one of my rabbeim advised us not to stay up all night on Shavuot. We should rather go to sleep at our regular time, wake up refreshed to say our prayers with proper kavanah, and then spend quality time studying Torah during the day.
Most people who stay up all night have difficulty concentrating on their learning when overly tired; because of excessive tiredness, they don’t say the morning prayers properly; and then they are exhausted the rest of the day. The losses of staying up all night can be much greater than the gains.
These arguments could equally apply to Tikkun Chatzot, except for rare individuals with a kabbalistic bent.
— Rabbi Marc D. Angel, director of
the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals
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Tikkun Chatzos is a very unique prayer in which we focus on the loss of not having the Beis HaMikdash, our tremendous pain over the Shechinah being in galus, the tremendous lack of Kiddush Hashem in the world, and the absence of the glory of the Jewish nation.
It should be said with great emotion, tears, and tremendous feeling. The problem is that most of us are unlikely to experience these feelings on a regular basis – if at all – and therefore to consistently say Tikkun Chatzos is probably not recommended for the average person.
However, certainly saying it once in one’s lifetime or on occasion sounds like a very good idea – especially now during the Three Weeks when we contemplate the tremendous tragedy of what it means to be a Jew in exile and the tremendous loss of the glory of Hashem’s presence.
— Rabbi Ben Zion Shafier, founder of The Shmuz
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Tikkun Chatzos dates back to at least the time of King David. Reciting it can be deeply soul-impacting if one reflects on the words and, especially, its underlying theme. Much of it is associated with mourning the loss of the Beis HaMikdash and yearning to reconnect with the Divine.
It is said after midnight because earlier hours of the night are periods of judgement, which is reflected in the increasing darkness. (That’s also why certain activities, like reciting Tehillim or giving tzedakah, are avoided during this time – so as not to add vitality to the judgement.) After midnight, as the darkness dissipates and a new dawn beckons, a time of Divine compassion arrives. Hence, after midnight is the recommended time for saying Tikkun Chatzos.
Some maintain that saying Tikkun Chatoz is reserved for great rabbis and mystics (Piskei Teshuvos 1:10) while others maintain that anyone can say it should he feel so inclined (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 1:5). As to how often one should recite it: Some say any opportunity, while others (Shulchan Aruch HaRav) argue in favor of at least once a week.
The effect of saying Tikkun Chatzos, according to Jewish mysticism, is immense, but people should not be criticized if they aren’t inclined to recite it.
Regardless of whether one says Tikun Chatzos or not, one ought to find time – especially during the Three Weeks – to lament the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash and deeply yearn for its restoration with the coming of Moshiach.
— Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet, popular Lubavitch
lecturer, rabbi of London’s Mill Hill Synagogue
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The custom of saying Tikkun Chatzos has been almost totally forgotten in America. And in a world with electricity and people staying up late each night, awakening at midnight is very different than it was when people went to sleep at nightfall.
With this background, I suspect that for a person to start saying Tikkun Chatzos – unless he were careful that nobody knew what he was doing – would either be an artificial display of piety or “shtick.”
If a person wants to show greater Jewish commitment, he can work on the quality of his regular prayers. Alternately, he can increase his Talmud Torah or be more careful about speaking lashon hara.
If a person belongs to a tradition that says Tikkun Chatzos, it makes more sense to start saying it, but even then, it should be a real commitment – not an occasional show of piety.
— Rabbi Yosef Blau, mashgiach ruchani at
YU’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary