Kollel Chatzos Nighttime Learning Captures the True Essence of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai
As Lag B’Omer approaches, hundreds of thousands of people are preparing to gather in the storied hills of ancient Meron to celebrate the yahrzeit of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. There they will dance, sing, light fires, and cut little boys’ hair; partaking in the joyous and uplifting traditions of the day.
Tucked away on a quiet street, entrance #9, in house #56, in the shul of Rabbi Naftali Friedman (special Lag B’Omer location), the talmidei chachomim of Kollel Chatzos, Meron will be celebrating Lag B’Omaer with the ultimate fulfillment of the essence of Rabbi Shimon: Torah learning throughout the night.
Unlike the thousands who have traveled to the kever of Rabbi Shimon for just this one night, the members of Kollel Chatzos gather every midnight throughout the year at the kever in Meron (as well as in three locations in the United States). As the rest of the world sleeps, they immerse themselves in vibrant torah learning, bringing zechusim and yeshuos to klal yisroel.
“In the Zohar, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai states over and over, more than 130 times, that chatzos halaila is such a special time to learn,” explains Rabbi Nechemye Hoffman, Founder and Director of Kollel Chatzos. “Between the Kollel Chatzos locations in the United States and the one in Meron, Torah is being learned 24 hours a day.”
As a bochur learning in Eretz Yisroel, Rabbi Hoffman visited Meron on Lag B’Omer and left with a small set of Zohar. The numerous references to the tremendous gadlus of learning Torah through the night kindled something within him and he began waking at midnight to study Torah. Once back in the United States, he married and settled in upstate New York with a regular day kollel schedule. Yet he sorely missed his nighttime learning, and with the support and encouragement of his wife, he founded the first Kollel Chatzos. Four years later, each location has a waiting list.
There have always been those who feel a deep connection to segulos and yeshuos, and Lag B’Omer at the Kever of the holy Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai has long been revered as a source of powerful potential bracha. But for anyone with a true understanding of the immense tzidkus of Rabbi Shimon, and the brilliant light of Torah he brought to the world, there can be no greater way to mark his yahrheit than by immersing in Torah learning.
Rabbi Shimon Halperin, Rosh Kollel of Kollel Chatzos Meron, expounds. “People come to Meron from across the country and across the world. At the kever there is a huge commotion with dancing, davening, tehillim, singing, and upsherin going on. The Kollel Chatzos talmidei chachomim, who are sitting quietly and learning the entire night, they are truly connected with Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, fulfilling his holy will.”
As more and more people across the globe reach out to support the nighttime Torah learning of Kollel Chatzos, the recognition is growing of the enormous bracha inherent in supporting continuous, 24-hour-a-day Torah learning. Kollel Chatzos partners continuously share their amazing stories of yeshuos, refuos, and besuros tovos that came to fruition after they began supporting the nighttime Torah learning of the Kollel.
“When people hear the power and zechus of supporting Kollel Chatzos, and the yeshuos it brings, they realize that there is definitely a koach to supporting Torah being learned b’chatzos halailah,” shares Rabbi Hoffman.
You can reach the ultimate level of bracha this Lag B’Omer and throughout the year by supporting the nighttime learning of Kollel Chatzos in Meron as well as Brooklyn, Monsey, and Monroe.