Contact Us

9 Mind-Expanding Themes to Keep You Up All Night This Shavuot

9 Mind-Expanding Themes to Keep You Up All Night This Shavuot

 Email

Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis are putting the finishing touches on their programs for the first night of Shavuot, when it is customary to burn the midnight oil, studying Torah all night until daybreak.

Nine different Chabad rabbis around the world were asked what they plan to study during the holiday with their communities.

These were their responses:

1. Start at the Beginning . . .

Credit: Ahuva Klein
Credit: Ahuva Klein

The Torah begins with one word, Bereishit. Often translated as “in the beginning,” this one word is said to hold the keys to creation itself. Over the years, Kabbalists, homilists, chassidic masters and scholars of all stripes have peeled back layer upon layer of insight packed into those six letters. Shavuot night is a perfect time to explore the tip of the iceberg of Torah.

Learn more with Rabbi Yossi Yaffe, Chabad of the Shoreline, Guilford, Conn.

2. The Story of Ruth

Credit: Sarah Kranz
Credit: Sarah Kranz

Shavuot celebrates the day when our ancestors stood at Mount Sinai becoming G‑d’s chosen nation. The book of Ruth tells a story of loyalty and generosity, as the Moabite princess Ruth follows her Hebrew mother-in-law to the Land of Israel. There she joins the Jewish nation, becoming the archetype for thousands of righteous converts who followed her path.

Deep in meaning, the four chapters of this book are the perfect narrative to explore the evening of Shavuot.

Learn more with Rabbi Chalom Loeub, Chabad Jewish Student Centre, Vancouver, Canada.

3. A Little Bit of Everything

Credit: Gify
Credit: Gify

The traditional syllabus for Shavuot night, known as Tikkun Leil Shavuot, is a summarized version of the entire Torah. It boasts selections from every Parshah of the Torah, as well as from the Tanach, the tractates of the Mishnah, and even major Kabbalistic works. It’s an impressive run-through of our entire tradition. The last section is Maimonides’ list of the 613 mitzvahs.

Learn more with Rabbi Bentzion Butman, Chabad Jewish Center, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

4. Stump the Rabbi!


Why limit Torah study? We’ve only recently celebrated Passover, where the Seder centers around the Four Questions. But Jewish people have far more than just four questions, so we invite people to submit their questions in advance of Shavuot. After answering them, we open the floor for group discussion. People love it, and they manage to stay awake all night, peppering others with their insights.

Learn more with Rabbi Mendel Kaplan, Chabad @ Flamingo, Thornhill, Canada.

5. Feel the Depth

Credit: Zalman Kleinman
Credit: Zalman Kleinman

King David was a mighty warrior and a powerful leader. He was also a prophet, who wrote some of the most enduring words in our tradition, the book of Psalms. Psalms are part of daily Jewish prayers and are very commonly recited. But how often do we have a chance to study them in depth? Shavuot, King David’s yahrtzeit, is a profound and relevant time to study them with some classic commentaries.

Learn more with Rabbi Yossi Marrus, Chabad Center for Jewish Life & Learning, San Antonio, Texas.

6. That’s ‘Rabbi Doctor’ to You!

Credit: Wikimedia
Credit: Wikimedia

Maimonides was one of the most influential teachers of Torah in the past millennium. Private physician to Saladin and a brilliant writer on a plethora of subjects, he will be long remembered as a philosopher and codifier of Jewish law. It is safe to assume that if not for his leadership, Torah would have been lost from some Jewish communities.

What better time is there to study the life and times of this great man—the Moses of his generation?

Learn more with Rabbi Yossi Jacobs, Lubavitch in the Midlands, Birmingham, England.

7. Remember: Keep It Fresh

Credit: Gify
Credit: Gify

Some favorite ideas from past years include the observance of Shavuot (which is predicated on the 49 days of the Omer) for someone who has crossed the International Date Line, and other challenges to modern-day jetsetting Jews.

When it comes to the last hour, the most important thing to offer is something fresh—something that even the rabbi hasn’t learned before. That way, everyone becomes stimulated and awakened. The deep teachings of the Rebbe work wonders for this.

Learn more with Rabbi Yossie Nemes, Chabad Center of Metairie, La.

8. Let the People Speak!


We have people from our community speak about something they are passionate and knowledgeable about; it’s both inclusive and educational. For example, a statistician will present “Statistics of Judaism in America, and Its Chance of Survival”; an exercise and physiology Ph.D. candidate will tackle “Torah and Exercise”; and this year, a microbiology Ph.D. candidate will enlighten all on “Torah and Microbiology.”

Learn more with Rabbi Chaim Lazaroff, Uptown Chabad, Houston, Texas.

9. Go Old School


The Latvian town of Dvinsk (Daugavpils) was home to two great Torah scholars: Rabbi Yosef Rosin (the Rogatchover Gaon, 1858–1936) and Rabbi Meir Simcha (the Ohr Same’ach, 1843–1926). The former was a Chabad chassid; the latter was not. Both of them contributed greatly to Torah scholarship. Shavuot night is an amazing time to explore the history of this once-important Jewish town, as well as the teachings of the great men who immortalized its name. For the rest of the night we will study the book of Ruth, with classic and chassidic commentaries.

Learn more with Rabbi Levy Wineberg, Hama’or Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa.

For those of you unable to travel halfway across the globe to join the rabbis just described, find a Shavuot learning program near you by clicking here.

© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
 Email
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
2 Comments
1000 characters remaining
Anonymous Tzfat May 21, 2015

I love Rabbi Kaplan's idea if I was in your community, that would help me stay awake too! Reply

Casper Netherlands May 20, 2015

Good to know Gives me ideas how to fill shavuot. Reply

Related Topics