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Tikun Hatzot Revisited PDF Print E-mail
Written by Tzvi Fishman   
Sunday, 24 October 2010

One of the most powerful tikunim for sexual transgression and the spilling of semen in vain is the heartfelt recital of the “Tikun Hatzot” prayer, the midnight lament over the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash, the Holy Temple, and Jerusalem.

[Click here for actual text of Tikun Hatzot]

 Since one of the main sins which led to the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash and Jerusalem was sexual transgression, the recital of “Tikun Hatzot” is a powerful atonement.

One reason for this is that instead of the pursuit of egotistic pleasure which characterizes masturbation and sexual transgression, “Tikun Hatzot,” is not recited for ourselves, but for the wellbeing of the Shechinah, the Divine Presence, which is in mourning and galut (exile) over the destruction of Jerusalem. Instead of just thinking about ourselves, we think about the anguish of G-d’s honor in the world.

Additionally, the Kaballah explains that that with each spilling of semen in vain, hundreds of thousands of souls are lost to the spiritual forces of evil in the world, known as the “Sitra Achra,” or “the Other Side.” Since these holy souls are derived from the Shechinah, their loss causes the Shechinah great pain. Through the heartfelt recital of “Tikun Hatzot” (found elsewhere on this website), we free the captured souls from the realm of evil and enable them to return to the Shechinah, the source of souls in Heaven.

According to the Kaballah, this ingathering of the exiled souls parallels the ingathering of the scattered exiled Jews from the four corners of the world back to the Land of Israel. This is why coming to live in Israel (aliyah) is a great rectification for the sins which led to the exile, and for our personal sexual transgressions which caused the spilling of semen in vain. In a sense, every Jew who returns to Israel is returning a piece of the Shechinah with him to the Shechinah itself, which is manifested geographically in the world in the Land of Israel, the Land of the Shechinah.

The order of prayers in “Tikun Hatzot” was formulated by the Arizal some 500 years ago. However, the Zohar is filled with references and praises regarding “Tikun Hatzot” and those who recite it, calling it the most perfect Divine service. The Ari writes how the saintly, Rabbi Avraham HaLevi, would walk through the streets of Safed after midnight, calling in a loud voice for everyone to awaken in order to mourn over the destruction of Jerusalem.

The time for reciting “Tikun Hatzot” is from midnight until dawn. Torah scholars who study at night should first say “Tikun Hatzot” and then continue on with their studies. The lament is not recited on Shabbat or holidays. If a person finds it difficult to recite it every night, he should endeavor to recite it as often as possible. Thursday nights are especially favorable for this practice. Even someone who is not learned in the secrets of Torah, and someone who doesn’t understand all of the words, and those who find it difficult to actually cry over the destruction, should make an effort to say the prayers and lamentations because of their incomparable value to the Jewish People as a whole, and because of the great pleasure it brings to the Shechinah, who is thus comforted in her anguish and exile.

It is a saintly practice to wear a sackcloth during the recital, and to sit on the floor (on a towel or paper) or on a low stool during the first half of the prayer, known as “Tikun Rachel.” It is good to recite it by the door of the house, but if this is impossible, it may be recited other places as well. The main thing is that its recitation come from the heart.

Someone who awakens from sleep after midnight should wash his hands in the proper fashion with the blessing, “Al netilat Yadayim,” and say the blessings over the Torah. If he plans to remain awake until the morning, he can say the morning blessings (berachot hashachar) as well. The renown Kaballist, the Rashash, Rabbi Shalom Sharabi, says that berachot hashachar can be recited immediately after Hatzot, even if the person hasn’t yet slept, and even if he intends to go to sleep after reciting “Tikun Hatzot.”  The Talmud records that at midnight G-d would send a north wind to blow through the strings of the harp above King David’s bed, in order to awaken him at Hatzot to sing G-d’s praises. The exact time of Hatzot is recorded in Jewish calanders, since the time differs according to the seasons of the year.

However often a person can recite “Tikun Hatzot,” and in whatever fashion, he will be rewarded with a great blessing, as our Sages have promised that whoever joins in the mourning over the Temple, and the destruction of Jerusalem, will merit to take part in the joy of their rebuilding – may it be soon!

Last Updated ( Monday, 25 October 2010 )
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