April 12, 2024
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April 12, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

I’m going to admit it: I didn’t stay up for Shavuot night in 2020. I figure it’s been long enough, so I’m finally willing to talk about it, despite shidduchim.

Yes, I’m aware that I’m technically a baal habayis, and that not all baalei batim stay up. But I never actually figured out what is the right age to stop. So I’ve been staying up pretty much every year since a couple of years before my bar mitzvah. That’s when most kids start, mother allowing.

The biggest question is what you learn. As a bochur, you come into Shavuot night with all these massive ambitions, but basically you spend the whole night on chazerai chazara.

But then at some point you become an adult, and if you’re not someone whose profession it is to learn for most of the day, you probably don’t have five hours’ worth of learning to do on a Shavuot night. Are you going to start a new limud that you’re going to continue once a year? Spending half of each Shavuot night trying to remember where you’re holding?

So for a few years there, most of what’s keeping some of us up is peer pressure. In fact, there were a couple of years that I was considering not staying up, but then I thought, “Then what about next year?” This is what carries you until your kids start staying up, and then you have to stay up, if only to watch them slowly fall asleep in the ladies’ section.

Anyway, so what happened in 2020?

In 2020, there were no shuls open here—just outdoor minyanim. And I fully intended to stay up all night learning in my house. I even told the kids that if we did that, the hot food would be omelets.

But then my minyan voted to daven Shacharis at 8, the excuse being that they didn’t want to wake up the neighborhood with the 5 a.m. davening of 14 people mumbling into their masks. It’s not like we were blowing shofar.

And in case I was considering davening alone k’vasikin, I couldn’t, because I had to lein, as someone who had at some point taught his child to lain Parshas Yisro and had apparently been the only one in that arrangement who committed the parsha to his permanent memory.

So I was not going to stay up at night. Instead, I decided, I was going to stay up all day, which is just as difficult on a Yom Tov.

There are a lot of baalei batim who don’t stay up all night, so I’m assuming this is what they do.

So what did I do? I learned, I walked around the block a little bit, at some point I was nodding off, I had a lot of coffee, some cake, I had to fight to stay awake … It wasn’t easy. The first day after the seudah, my wife was like, “So are you going to come up for a nap?” And I said, “Nope! I’m going to stay up and learn!” And she supported my decision, like the true eishes chayil that she is. Not one bit of complaining.

The thing about staying up Shavuot day when your wife sleeps is that you may be staying up with an entirely different group of kids. The limudim aren’t as complicated, though. A lot of songs.

Anyway, the plan was to daven Mincha as early as possible so I could go back to bed. There was a 1:40 minyan.

No, I’m kidding. That got outvoted too. But a lot of the point of staying up all night is that you’re going to come to Shacharis on time without oversleeping in order to do teshuva for the B’nei Yisroel coming late to Matan Torah, so I parlayed that into staying up all day and then I came to Mincha on time.

I had to find someone who’d slept all afternoon to say Ashrei for me.

I will say, though, that staying up at home is underrated, because there are couches. What you lack in chavrutas you make up for in couches.

On the downside, a buffet of food sitting out for five hours isn’t as much fun in the light of day. With food you bought yourself.

And I couldn’t even have coffee with milk all afternoon, because I had a fleishig day seudah like a yutz. By the time I could have milchigs, it was time for Maariv.

On the bright side, I did not have to keep moving my seat around all day because of new shiurim starting in various corners of the house.

That said, I did almost doze off a few times in the middle of the afternoon. The couches did not help.

And my boys stayed up with me! But they didn’t really learn the entire time. They played around a little, and I was like, “Why are they even up? They should be in bed.” But I didn’t fight them about it, because it was late in the afternoon.

I was going to stay up the entire second day, too, but that was just too much. I’m not a bochur anymore. I was like, “I don’t know if it’s worth going to sleep all night just so I can stay up during the day. What’s the point, you know?” And I would have had to sleep the entire Motzoei Yom Tov.

Will I do this again so fast? I don’t know.

I definitely didn’t get everything done that I’d wanted to, because my plans were way too ambitious, and it turns out that days are actually not that long. And also toward the end of the day when I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore, I switched over to learning something a little bit easier. And there aren’t really so many shiurim to go to. All the rabbis are asleep.

And then I was tired, like, the entire night. After Maariv, all I wanted to do was have kiddush and cheesecake and go to sleep. I said, “Wake me up for the seudah at 12.” And my wife said, “Fat chance.”

What do these women want?


Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published eight books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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