The Awesome Mysteries of Shavuot – How To Merit The Crowns of Blessings

We are already well into the period of Sefirat HaOmer, which means it’s time to prepare for the holy festival of Shavuot

Shavuot, known as the festival of receiving the Torah, is often regarded as one of the most straightforward to prepare for but one of the most challenging to fulfill from a Kabbalistic perspective.

Rabbenu Bachya, a distinguished Kabbalist in his own right, drew a distinction between the Festivals based on a verse from the Torah: “כִּי קָרוֹב אֵלֶיךָ הַדָּבָר מְאֹד בְּפִיךָ וּבִלְבָבְךָ לַעֲשֹׂתוֹ,” which translates to “Because the matter is very close to you, in your mouth (Pesach) and in your heart (Shavuot), to do it (Sukkot).” On Pesach, we use our mouths to recount the Haggadah, while on Sukkot, we perform various actions such as building the Sukkah and waving the four species.

On Shavuot, however, the focus is on meditating in the heart.

Tikkun of Leil Shavuot

The Sephira of Keter

Keter, often translated as “crown,” symbolizes the pinnacle of spiritual attainment of any spiritual system, a realm of pure compassion and infinite light. It’s viewed as the origin of divine wisdom (Chokhmah) that cascades down through the Sephirot to manifest in the physical world. On Shavuot, the spiritual work accomplished during the Omer period culminates in a revelation akin to the divine illumination of Keter, offering an unparalleled spiritual opportunity.

The sages teach that on Mount Sinai, the Jewish people perceived Hashem as an “old sage”. This is a reference to the revelation that they had which is related to the Sephira of Keter (or the Partzuf of Arich Anpin).

Receiving the Torah on Shavuot is compared to the crowning of the Jewish people. Just as Keter embodies the divine will that transcends understanding, the Torah provides a connection with Hashem that surpasses human wisdom, embodying the pure will of God. The Torah is thus a manifestation of the divine wisdom emanating from Keter.

Keter is linked to the concept of bitul (self-nullification), which means setting aside personal ego and aligning with the divine will. On Shavuot, the essence of Keter calls for humility and openness and this is reflected in the people’s willingness to accept the Torah, declaring “Naaseh V’nishma” (we will do and we will listen), embodying the surrender to divine will that Keter represents.

Therefore, Shavuot emphasizes the unity of the Jewish people, which is also inherent in the concept of Keter and the state where we were all “one person with one heart”. It also mirrors the collective spiritual ascent towards the divine light of Keter.

This is an E”t ratzon (time of grace) that is unique in that the Sephira of Keter is already received early in the morning, as opposed to all other festivals.

DALL·E 2024 04 07 13.26.43 A scene depicting an ancient Jewish elder in a moment of solemn celebration surrounded by a mystically lit Shabbat table. This time the table featur

The Tzadik and the Crowns

Moreover, Shavuot holds a powerful connection to the figure of the Tzadik of the generation.

The Arizal explains that the journey from Pesach through Sephirat HaOmer and Shavuot represents one spiritual system, or Partzuf. During Sephirat HaOmer, we rectify the Sephirot of Chokhmah, Bina, Da’at, Chesed, Gevurah, Tiferet, and Malkhut but leave Netzach, Hod, and Yesod incomplete.

These missing Sephirot are brought down during Shavuot when we perform the Tikkun.

According to the Zohar, the two Tablets brought down by Moshe from Mount Sinai symbolize Netzach and Hod. This is indeed puzzling… What about Yesod?

The answer is that Moshe Rabbenu (the Tzadik of the generation) is its representation, as Proverbs 10:25 says, “the Tzadik is the Yesod of the world.” This underscores the importance of being connected to the spiritual leader of one’s generation, because the Torah presents the basic spiritual framework for all times.

You may have noticed the absence of Keter, the highest attainable light. And that is because Keter, as we saw, typically arrives as a divine gift at the conclusion of each cycle.

The Tikkun of Shavuot

The Arizal designed the Tikkun of Shavuot as the final step in the spiritual journey that starts with Pesach and continues through Sephirat HaOmer. It is traditionally performed by men (since women are also exempt from Sefirat HaOmer), emphasizing their role in bringing the Torah into the home.

(In contrast, Yom Kippur elevates the Shekhina, closely connected to women who refrained from sinning with the golden calf)

The Tikkun entails reciting excerpts from the 24 books of the Tanach, including the complete Book of Ruth, a process lasting two to three hours, followed by studying Kabbalah throughout the night.

You can find the Tikkun from the Arizal and Rashash here.

During this awesome night, the Shekhinah (Malkhut) receives 24 adornments on this special night before being symbolically married to Zeir Anpin (the six Sephirot of Chesed, Gevurah, Tiferet, Netzach, Hod, and Yesod). Throughout the Tikkun, we complete the Partzuf by incorporating the previously missing Netzach, Hod, and Yesod.

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai expounds in the Zohar that those who complete this Tikkun without sleeping at all will receive no less than 70 blessings from Hashem, be recorded in the Sefer HaZichronot (Book of Remembrance), be called “Servant of the Queen,” and be spared from premature death that year.

However, this promise only applies if they remain awake throughout the Tikkun.

As an side note, the Rashash (R’ Shalom Sharabi) teaches us that after Chatzot Layla (midnight), one can already recite the Birkot HaShachar (morning blessings), except of course, for the 3 blessings on the Torah, and Al Netilat Yadayim, Asher Yatzar and Elokai Netzor (if one didn’t sleep).

DALL·E 2024 04 02 10.48.19 A variation of the scene with an ancient Jewish sage and his students all wearing robes and small turbans now indoors under artificial lighting. The

As dawn approaches, just before putting on their Tallit to pray, men immerse themselves in the Mikvah to bring in the Sephira of Keter. The Shacharit prayer, ideally recited at Vatikin, aligns the Amidah with sunrise. The ultimate union between the Shekhina and Zeir Anpin culminates during the Kedusha of Musaf when we recite, “Shema Israel, Adonai Elo-heinu, Adonai Echad.” We should strive to recite this with maximum concentration, because this could be said to be the pinnacle of the entire festival.

Finally, the Kiddush and morning meal concludes the Tikkun, and we are free to rest. You may find more insights on the night of Shavuot from the Zohar and revealed sources here.

While women can also perform the Tikkun, they don’t dip in the Mikvah. Nevertheless, their efforts are obviously recognized, and many also pray at Vatikin.

It’s important to remember that our prayers bring forth the internal light of Shavuot, while the festive meal provides the external light, just as it does on every Shabbat and other holidays. We consume dairy foods at night, not just because the Torah is associated with milk, but also to help us stay awake since it’s incredibly important. In order to keep the halacha that we should have meat on festivals, many people then have a meat meal during the day to fulfill the obligation.

B’hatzlacha on the Tikkun, and may we all merit to receive these awesome blessings!

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Chaim Apsan

Chaim is a teacher and Kabbalah enthusiast. He loves helping Jews connect with true Torah teaching and enhancing their spiritual growth. With a focus on meditation, he guides individuals on transformative journeys of prayer, contemplation, and connection with Hashem. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and kids, and is committed to sharing the wisdom and power of Kabbalah in a genuine way.

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