Origins of Tikkun Layl Shavuot

The custom of learning Torah through the night of Shavuot is a young one, by Jewish standards. Before the 1500s, it's possible that it was never practiced at all, or perhaps only by a few. Although there are some ideas that prefigure the custom in the Midrash and early commentators on the Torah, the idea of Tikkun Layl Shavuot really has its main root in the Zohar.

רִבִּי אַבָּא וְרִבִּי חִיָּיא הֲווֹ אָזְלֵי בְּאוֹרְחָא, אָמַר רִבִּי חִיָּיא, כְּתִיב, (ויקרא כ''ג) וּסְפַרְתֶּם לָכֶם מִמָּחֳרָת הַשַּׁבָּת מִיּוֹם הֲבִיאֲכֶם אֶת עֹמֶר הַתְּנוּפָה. מַאי קָא מַיְירֵי. אָמַר לֵיהּ, הָא אוּקְמוּהָ חַבְרַיָּיא. אֲבָל תָּא חֲזֵי...

Rabbi Abba and Rabbi Hiya were walking on the way. Rabbi Hiya said - It's written "And you will count for yourselves from the morrow after the day of rest, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the waving; [seven complete weeks shall there be]" What does this mean? He responded - the companions have already established it. But come and see...

Rabbi Hiya compares the people of Israel leaving Egypt and counting seven weeks while traveling to Mt. Sinai to a noble woman counting seven days before her wedding. The night of Shavuot is the culmination of that process, the culmination of the counting, the night when the bride visits the Mikvah in advance of her wedding. We'll pick up the narrative there.

וּמַאן דְּמָטֵי טָהוֹר לְהַאי יוֹמָא, וְחוּשְׁבָּנָא לָא אִתְאֲבִיד מִנֵּיהּ, כַּד מָטֵי לְהַאי לֵילְיָא, לִבְעֵי לֵיהּ לְמִלְעֵי בְּאוֹרַיְיתָא, וּלְאִתְחַבְּרָא בָּה, וּלְנַטְרָא דַּכְיוּ עִלָּאָה, דְּמָטֵי עָלֵיהּ בְּהַהוּא לֵילְיָא, וְאִתְדְּכֵי.

וְאוֹלִיפְנָא, דְּאוֹרַיְיתָא דְּבָעֵי לֵיהּ לְמִלְעֵי בְּהַאי לֵילְיָא, אוֹרַיְיתָא דְבְּעַל פֶּה, בְּגִין דְּיִתְדְּכוּן (ס''א דיתדבק) כַּחֲדָא, מִמַּבּוּעָא דְּנַחֲלָא עֲמִיקָא. לְבָתַר, בְּהַאי יוֹמָא, לֵיתֵי תּוֹרָה שֶׁבִּכְתָּב, וְיִתְחַבֵּר (ס''א בהו) בָּהּ, וְיִשְׁתַּכְחוּן כַּחֲדָא בְּזִוּוּגָא חַד לְעֵילָּא. כְּדֵין מַכְרִיזֵי עָלֵיהּ וְאַמְרֵי, (ישעיהו נ״ט:כ״א) וַאֲנִי זֹאת בְּרִיתִי אוֹתָם אָמַר יי' רוּחִי אֲשֶׁר עָלֶיךָ וּדְבָרַי אֲשֶׁר שַׂמְתִּי בְּפִיךָ וְגוֹ'.

וְעַל דָּא, חֲסִידֵי קַדְמָאֵי לָא הֲווֹ נָיְימֵי בְּהַאי לֵילְיָא, וַהֲווּ לָעָאן בְּאוֹרַיְיתָא, וְאַמְרֵי, נֵיתֵי לְאַחֲסָנָא יְרוּתָא קַדִּישָׁא, לָן, וְלִבְנָן, בִּתְרֵין עָלְמִין. וְהַהוּא לֵילְיָא כְּנֶסֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל אִתְעַטְּרָא עָלַיְיהוּ, וְאַתְיָיא לְאִזְדַּוְּוגָא בֵּיהּ בְּמַלְכָּא, וְתַרְוַויְיהוּ מִתְעַטְּרֵי עַל רֵישַׁיְיהוּ, דְּאִינּוּן דְּזַכָּאן לְהָכִי.

רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן הָכִי אָמַר, בְּשַׁעֲתָא דְּמִתְכַּנְשֵׁי חַבְרַיָּיא בְּהַאי לֵילְיָא לְגַבֵּיהּ, נֵיתֵי לְתַקְּנָא תַּכְשִׁיטֵי כַּלָּה, בְּגִין דְּתִשְׁתְּכַח לְמָחָר בְּתַכְשִׁיטָהָא, וְתִקוּנָהָא, לְגַבֵּי מַלְכָּא כַּדְקָא יָאוּת. זַכָּאָה חוּלָקֵיהוֹן דְּחַבְרַיָּיא, כַּד יִתְבַּע מַלְכָּא לְמַטְרוֹנִיתָא, מַאן תַּקִּין תַּכְשִׁיטָהָא, וְאַנְהִיר עִטְרָהָא, וְשַׁוִּי תִּקּוּנָהָא. וְלֵית לָךָ בְּעָלְמָא, מַאן דְּיָדַע לְתַקְּנָא תַּכְשִׁיטֵי כַּלָּה, אֶלָּא חַבְרַיָּיא, זַכָּאָה חוּלָקֵיהוֹן בְּעָלְמָא דֵּין וּבְעָלְמָא דְּאָתֵי.

תָּא חֲזֵי, חַבְרַיָּיא מְתַקְּנֵי בְּהַאי לֵילְיָא תַּכְשִׁיטָהָא לְכַלָּה, וּמְעַטְּרֵי לָהּ בְּעִטְרָהָא, לְגַבֵּי מַלְכָּא. וּמַאן מַתְקִין לֵיהּ לְמַלְכָּא, בְּהַאי לֵילְיָא, לְאִשְׁתַּכְּחָא בָּהּ בְּכַלָּה, לְאִזְדַּוְּוגָא בָּהּ בְּמַטְרוֹנִיתָא. נַהֲרָא קַדִּישָׁא עֲמִיקָא דְּכָל נַהֲרִין, אִימָּא עִלָּאָה. הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב, (שיר השירים ג׳:י״א) צְאֶינָה וּרְאֶינָה בְּנוֹת צִיּוֹן בַּמֶּלֶךְ שְׁלֹמֹה וְגוֹ'. לְבָתַר דְּאַתְקִינַת לֵיהּ לְמַלְכָּא, וְאַעְטְּרַת לֵיהּ, אַתְיַית לְדַכְּאָה לָהּ לְמַטְרוֹנִיתָא, וּלְאִינּוּן דְּמִשְׁתַּכְּחֵי גַּבָּהּ.

לְמַלְכָּא דְּהֲוָה לֵיהּ בַּר יְחִידָאי, אָתָא לְזַוְּוגָא לֵיהּ בְּמַטְרוֹנִיתָא עִלָּאָה, מַאי עַבְדַת אִמֵּיהּ כָּל הַהוּא לֵילְיָא, עָאלַת לְבֵי גְּנִיזָהָא, אַפִּיקַת עִטְּרָא עִלָּאָה, בְּשִׁבְעִין אַבְנֵי יְקָר סַחֲרָנָא, וְאַעְטְּרַת לֵיהּ. אַפִּיקַת לְבוּשִׁין דְּמִילַת וְאַלְבִּישַׁת לֵיהּ, וְאַתְקְּנַת לֵיהּ בְּתִקּוּנֵי דְּמַלְכִין.

לְבָתַר עָאלַת לְבֵי כַּלָּה, חָמָאת עוּלֵימְתָהָא, דְּקָא מְתַקְּנֵי עִטְרָהָא, וּלְבוּשָׁהָא, וְתַכְשִׁיטָהָא, לְתַקְּנָא לָהּ. אָמְרָה לוֹן, הָא אֲתְקִּינַת בֵּי טְבִילָה, אֲתַר דְּמַיִין נַבְעִין, וְכָל רֵיחִין וּבוּסְמִין סוּחֲרָנֵי אִינּוּן מַיִין, לְדַכְּאָה לְכַלָּתִי, לֵיתֵי כַּלָּתִי, מַטְרוֹנִיתָא דִּבְרִי, וְעוּלֵימְתָהָא, וְיִתְדְּכוּן בְּהַהוּא אֲתַר דְּאַתְקִינַת בְּהַהוּא בֵּי טְבִילָה, דְּמַיִין נַבְעִין דְּעִמִּי. לְבָתַר תַּקִּינוּ לָהּ בְּתַכְשִׁיטָהָא, אַלְבִּישׁוּ לָהּ לְבוּשָׁהָא, אַעֲטְּרוּ לָהּ בְּעִטְרָהָא. לְמָחָר כַּד יֵיתֵי בְּרִי לְאִזְדַּוְּוגָא בְּמַטְרוֹנִיתָא, יַתְקִין הֵיכָלָא לְכֻלְּהוּ, וְיִשְׁתְּכַּח מָדוֹרֵיהּ בְּכוּ כַּחֲדָא.

כַּךְ מַלְכָּא קַדִּישָׁא וּמַטְרוֹנִיתָא, וְחַבְרַיָּיא, כְּהַאי גַּוְונָא. וְאִימָא עִלָּאָה דִּמְתַּקְנַת כֹּלָּא. אִשְׁתְּכַח דְּמַלְכָּא עִלָּאָה, וּמַטְרוֹנִיתָא, וְחַבְרַיָּיא, מָדוֹרֵיהוֹן כַּחֲדָא, וְלָא מִתְפָּרְשִׁין לְעָלְמִין. הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב, (תהילים ט״ו:א׳) יי' מִי יָגוּר בְּאָהֳלֶךָ וְגוֹ', הוֹלֵךְ תָּמִים וּפוֹעֵל צֶדֶק. מַאן הוּא פּוֹעֵל צֶדֶק. אֶלָּא, אִלֵּין אִינּוּן דִּמְתַּקְנֵי לְמַטְרוֹנִיתָא בְּתַכְשִׁיטָהָא, בִּלְבוּשָׁהָא, בְּעִטְרָהָא. וְכָל חַד, פּוֹעֵל צֶדֶק אִקְרֵי.

אָמַר רִבִּי חִיָּיא, אִלְמָלֵא לָא זָכֵינָא בְּעָלְמָא, אֶלָּא לְמִשְׁמַע מִלִּין אִלֵּין דַּיי. זַכָּאָה חוּלָקֵיהוֹן דְּאִינּוּן דְּמִשְׁתַּדְּלֵי בְּאוֹרַיְיתָא, וְיַדְעִין אוֹרְחוֹי דְּמַלְכָּא קַדִּישָׁא, דִּרְעוּתָא דִּלְהוֹן בְּאוֹרַיְיתָא, עָלַיְיהוּ כְּתִיב (תהילים צ״א:י״ד) כִּי בִי חָשַׁק וַאֲפַלְּטֵהוּ. וּכְתִיב אֲחַלְּצֵהוּ וַאֲכַבְּדֵהוּ.

One who arrives pure to this day, and the count was not lost from him - when he reaches this night, he must learn Torah and be connected to her, to guard this purity that comes upon him that night, purifying him.

We have learned that the Torah that we need to learn on this night [Leyl Shavuot] is the Oral Torah, so that they may be purified together from the wellspring of the deep stream. Afterward, on this day [of Shavuot] Written Torah will come join her and they will be as one, as one couple above. Then it is proclaimed about him (Isaiah 59:21) 'And this is for Me My covenant with them said YHVH: My spirit that is upon you and My words I have put in your mouth (will not depart from your mouth, nor from your children's mouths...now and forever)'.

Thus, the earlier pious ones did not sleep on this night, and they studied Torah, saying let us acquire a holy inheritance for us and our children in two worlds. And on this night, Keneset Yisrael is crowned above them and comes to intimately join with the King, and both of them are crowned above the heads of those who are worthy of this.

Rabbi Shimon would say, when the Hevraya gathered around him this night, "let us array the jewels of the Bride, so tomorrow she will appear before the King suitably adorned and bedecked. Happy is the portion of the Hevraya when the King inquires of the Matronita who has placed her jewels and illuminated her crown, and arranged her adornments? For there is none in the world who know how to array the jewels of the Bride other than the Hevraya. Happy is their portion in this world and the world that is coming.

Come and envision! The Hevraya prepare the jewels of the Bride that night, and crown her with Her crowns for the King. But who prepares the King on that night to be with the Bride and partner with the Matronita? The Holy River, deepest of all rivers, the Supernal Mother, as it is written (Shir HaShirim 3:11) Go out and see, O daughters of Jerusalem, the crown with which King Solomon was crowned by his mother on the day of his wedding. And after she has prepared the King and crowned Him, she comes to purify the Matronita and those who are with Her.

This is comparable to a king who had an only son whom he united in marriage to a noble lady. What did his mother do? She spent all night in the storeroom, and brought out a noble crown set with 70 precious stones, and crowned him. She brought out royal clothes, and dressed him, and prepared him with a kingly array.

Afterwards she went into the house of the bride, saw her maidens, who were fixing her crowns, and clothes, and jewelry, to prepare her. She said to them, I have prepared a bathhouse, a place of flowing waters, and all manner of scents surround that pool, to purify my daughter-in-law. Come my daughter-in-law, Matronita of my son, and her maidens, and be purified in that place I have prepared, in that bathing place of flowing waters. Afterwards, prepare her in her jewelry, dress her in her clothes, crown her in her crown. Tomorrow, when my son comes to unite with Matronita, he will prepare a palace for everyone, and he will live with you together.

So it is with the Holy King, Matronita, and the companions, in this way, and exalted mother who arranges all. The Exalted King, Matronita, and the companions dwell together, and are never separated. As it's written - "YHVH, who can dwell in your tent... one who walks in innocence and does justice." Who is one who does justice? Those who prepare Matronita with her jewelry, her clothing, and her crown. Each one is called a a doer of justice.

Rabbi Hiyya said: If I am merely privileged to hear these words, it is enough. Happy is the portion of those who strive with Torah and know the ways of the Holy king whose desire is for Torah. About them it is written (Psalms 91:14-15) 'Because he desires me, I will deliver him...I will save him and honor him.'

I find that this passage only opened up to me when I sat with it for a while, read it a few times, slowly, pictured it in my mind. A fine thing to do on the evening of Shavuot.

The earliest recorded case of a Tikkun Layl Shavuot being practiced was in Greece, in the year 1533 (or thereabouts), and it was a remarkable one. Present were R. Yosef Karo, later the author of the Shulchan Aruch, R. Shlomo HaLevi Alkabetz, later the composer of Lecha Dodi, and other unnamed members of their circle. A few years later, R. Alkabetz wrote of the experience. (Below is an excerpt from his letter. There's more to this story than we can tell here...)

דעו לכם כי הסכמנו החסיד נר"ו ואני עבדו ועבידכם מהחברים לעמוד על נפשינו ליל שבועות ולנדד שינה מעינינו, ותהלות ליי כן עלה בידינו כי לא הפסקנו רגע רק אשר תשמעו ותחי נפשכם...

ובעת שהתחלנו ללמוד המשנה ולמדנו שתי מסכתות, זיכנו בוראנו ונשמע את קול המדבר בפי החסיד נר"ו קול גדול בחיתוך אותיות, וכל השכנים היו שומעים ולא מבינים, והיה הנעימות רב והקול הולך וחזק, ונפלנו על פנינו ולא היה רוח באיש לישא עיניו ופניו לראות מרוב המורא והדיבור ההוא מדבר עמנו והתחיל ואמר, שמעו ידידי המהדרים מן המהדרים, ידידי אהובי שלום לכם אשריכם ואשרי ילדתכם, אשריכם בעולם הזה אשריכם בעולם הבא אשר שמתם על נפשיכם לעטרני בלילה הזה אשר זה כמה שנים נפלה עטרת ראשי ואין מנחם לי, ואני מושלכת בעפר חובקת אשפתות, ועתה החזרתם עטרה ליושנה...

Know - that the pious one (R. Yosef Karo) and I agreed to make a great effort on the night of Shavuot, and to keep sleep from our eyes. Praise to God, so it was. We didn't stop one moment - listen, and your soul will be revived...

The moment that we began to learn the Mishnah, and we learned two mesechtot, our creator graced us and we heard a voice speaking from the mouth of the pious one. A great voice, with clear enunciation, and all around us heard but did not understand. It was very pleasant, and the voice gained strength. We fell on our faces, and none could raise their eyes from fear. The voice speaking to us began and said - "Hear my beloved ones, most beautiful, cherished, beloved, peace to you, fortunate are you and those that bore you, fortunate in this world and in the world to come, in that you took upon yourselves to crown me this night. It is many years that my crown has fallen from my head, and I have no one to comfort me, and I am cast to the dirt clutching waste. But you have returned the crown to its former glory...

And yet, when R. Yosef Karo wrote the Shulchan Aruch (~1560), he made no mention of staying up on the night of Shavuot. (See Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chayim 494:1). But other sources from the late 1500s show that the custom was alive in the golden age of Tzfat.

ערב שבועות: ישנים שעה אחת או ב' שעות, אחר שעשו צרכי מועד, לפי שבלילה אחר האכילה מתקבצים בבתי כנסיות, כל קהל וקהל בב"ה שלו, ואינם ישנים כל הלילה, וקורין תורה נביאים וכתובים, ומשניות וזהר ודרשות בקראי עד אור הבוקר, ואז כל העם טובלים בבוקר קודם תפלת שחרית, כדאיתא בזוהר פ' אמור.

Avraham Galante (d. 1589)

The evening before Shavuot: they sleep an hour or two, after preparing the needs of the holiday, because on the night after the meal they gather in the synagogues, each community in its synagogue, and don't sleep the whole night. And they read Torah, Prophets, and Writings, Mishnah, Zohar, and Drashot on verses until the light of morning. Then the people immerse in the mikvah in the morning before Shacharit, as is written in the Zohar parshat Emor.

(יב) ודע, שכל מי שבלילה ההוא לא ישן כלל ועיקר ויהיה עוסק בתורה, מובטח לו שישלים שנתו, ולא יארע לו שום נזק, והוראת חיי האדם הוא בלילה זה:

(12) Know - that anyone who doesn't sleep at all on this night, and engages in Torah - it's guaranteed that he will live out the year and no harm will befall him, and the decree of a person's life is on this night.

In the next few centuries, the custom took hold and spread, until it became quite common. By the mid 1600s, the custom was already widespread.

The historian Elliott Horowitz presents a convincing case that the spread of coffee was a key factor in the adoption of the custom of Tikkun Layl Shavuot (and Tikkun Hatzot as well.)

(See "Coffee, Coffeehouses, and the Nocturnal Rituals of Early Modern Jewry")

R. Avraham Gombiner, the Magen Avraham, wrote in the mid 1600s. He seems uncomfortable with the mystical roots of the practice, and looks for a simpler reason.

(א) איתא בזוהר שחסידים הראשונים היו נעורים כל הלילה ועוסקים בתורה. וכבר נהגו רוב הלומדים לעשות כן. ואפשר לתת טעם על פי (ה)פשוטו, לפי שישראל היו ישנים כל הלילה והוצרך הקב"ה להעיר אותם, כדאיתא במדרש, לכן אנו צריכים לתקן זה.

(1) It says in the Zohar that the original pious ones would be awake all the night working in Torah. And already most of those who learn do this. It's possible to give a reason for this according to its simple understanding, that Israel slept all the night, and the Holy One Blessed be He had to wake them, as the midrash says. Therefore, we need to fix this.

The Midrash that the Magen Avraham draws from does have a critical element, though it could be read as offering a balanced view of sleep as well.

ר' פנחס בשם רבי הושעיא אמר: עד שהמלך במסבו עד שהמלך מלכי המלכים הקדוש ב"ה במסבו ברקיע. כבר הקדים, שנאמר: (שמות י"ט) ויהי ביום השלישי בהיות הבקר. למלך שגזר ליום פלוני, אני נכנס למדינה, וישנו להם בני המדינה כל הלילה. וכשבא המלך ומצאם ישנים, העמיד עליהם בקלאנין בוקינס ושופר, והיה השר של אותה מדינה, מעוררן ומוציאן לאפנתי של מלך, והיה המלך מהלך לפניהם, עד שהגיע לפלטין שלו. כך הקדוש ברוך הוא הקדים, דכתיב: ויהי ביום השלישי בהיות הבקר. וכתיב: כי ביום השלישי ירד ה' לעיני כל העם. ישנו להם ישראל כל אותו הלילה, לפי ששינה של עצרת עריבה והלילה קצרה. אמר ר' יודן: אפילו פורטענא לא עקץ בם. בא הקדוש ברוך הוא ומצאן ישנים, התחיל מעמיד עליהם בקלאנין. הדא הוא דכתיב: "ויהי ביום השלישי בהיות הבקר ויהי קולות וברקים". והיה משה מעורר לישראל ומוציאן, לאפנתי של מלך מלכי המלכים הקדוש ברוך הוא. הדא הוא דכתיב: ויוצא משה את העם לקראת האלהים. והיה הקדוש ברוך הוא מהלך לפניהם, עד שהגיע להר סיני. דכתיב: והר סיני עשן כלו. אמר רבי יצחק: זה הוא, שמקנתרן על ידי ישעיהו. שנאמר: (ישעיה נ') מדוע באתי ואין איש, קראתי ואין עונה, הקצר קצרה ידי מפדות?!

Rabbi Pinhas said in the name of Hoshaya: "While the king sat at his table": while the King of kings, the Holy One, Blessed Be He, sat at the heavens. He arrived early, as it is stated: (Exodus 19:16) "And it came to pass on the third day, when it was morning." This is like a king who decreed, "On such a day, I am going to enter the province." But the people of the province slept all through the night, so that when the king arrived and found them asleep, he set trumpets and horns to get them up. And the minister of that province woke them up and took them to meet the king. And the king walked before them, until he reached his palace. This is like the Holy One, Blessed Be He, as it is written: (Ibid.) "And it came to pass on the third day, when it was morning." And it written: (Ibid.) "For the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of the people." Israel slept all through the night, because the sleep of Shavuot is pleasant and the night is short. Rabbi Yudan said: Not even a flea stung them. When the Holy One, Blessed Be He, came and found them asleep, he started to get them up with trumpets, as it is written: (Exodus 16:16) "And it came to pass on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunders and lightnings." And Moses roused Israel and took them to meet the King of kings, the Holy One, Blessed Be He, as it is written: (Exodus 19:17) "And Moses brought forth the people [out of the camp] to meet God." And the Holy One, Blessed Be He, went before them, until they reached Mount Sinai, as it is written: (Exodus 19:18): "Now mount Sinai was altogether on smoke." Rabbi Yitzkak said: It was this for which He chided them through [the prophesy of] Isaiah. As it is written: (Isaiah 50:2) "Wherefore, when I came, was there no man? When I called, was there no answer? Is My hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem?"

Perhaps this midrash led to the following comment from Avraham Ibn Ezra (1089 - 1164 CE).

I wonder if either of these were on the mind of the author of the Zohar.

(א) והיו נכנים. אולי לא יישן אדם בהם בלילה. שישמעו קול ה' בבקר. כדרך כהן גדול ביום הכפורים:

(1) Be Ready: Perhaps a person shouldn't sleep on them at night, because they will hear the voice of God in the morning, like the way of the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur.

Eliyahu Kitov offers support for those of us who need a few winks (or can't find coffee).

ספר התודעה

ועוד אמרו. שלפיכך נתקן סדר הלילה כדי לתקן פגם של מקבלי התורה הראשונים שהיו בהם רבים שהלכו לישון באותו הלילה והקב״ה עוררם מן השינה שיבואו לקבל התורה כדאיתא במדרש. ואין זו קטגוריא ח״ו על ישראל שבאותו הדור שכלם בני דעה היו ומצפים לשמוע דבר ה׳׳ אלא מפני שהיו בהם חלשים והתיראו שמא לא יוכלו לעמוד על כל כחס בשעת הדיבור אם לא יינפשו בלילה. ואנשי אמת היו כלם ולא עשו מפני הבושה מזה על זה ואם שיער אדם בנפשו ששנתו בלילה יפה לו כדי שישמע הדיבור והוא בכל כחו וזיוו, עשה שלא נאסרו בכך.

Book of Our Heritage

It is said that the custom of staying awake was enacted to repair the wrong of the generation that received the Torah - that many of them slept that night, and God had to rouse them. This is not a criticism of that generation, who were all conscious people who looked forward to hearing the word of God. Rather, they were tired, and were worried that they wouldn't be able to stand in their strength when they heard God speaking if they didn't sleep. They were all deeply honest people, and were not influenced by how others would perceive them. If a person felt that sleep would be good for him, in order to be at full strength to hear the Word, he did so, since there was no prohibition of sleeping.

There's room in the sources for different approaches to the night of Shavuot. Stay up! or Sleep. Orient yourself to the heavenly wedding of the Torah, to self improvement, or just to learn and enjoy.