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The two main traditions of Shavuot are learning Torah and eating blintzes. Preparation for the receiving of the Torah and to eating dairy in rolled up crepe form, are holiday requirements. Known as Tikun Layla Shavuot, it is an atonement for us falling asleep before receiving the Torah in the desert.
The eating, I can do. But staying up all night, past sunrise, is hard. What people who are lactose intolerant do for Shavuot, I do not know. Maybe they skip the holiday. Myself, I take this holiday seriously and do not sleep.
Let me share some of the methods that have helped me connect with this tradition, staying awake on Shavuot:
Eat a Long Meal
Most people end their meals at around 10pm. They are stuck with a good six to seven hours of learning. I haven’t studied anything for six hours since my last college exam; and that was because I never showed up to class.
Eating and enjoyment on the holiday are also Mitzvahs. Hence, you want your meal to go as close to sunrise as possible. You can accomplish this by chewing. Many suggest 18 chews before swallowing, corresponding with the Hebrew word ‘Chai,’ meaning life. I just came up with that, but it sounds really good. To extend my meal, I was chewing well over 40 times. For the solids, I was chewing up to 80 times. To extend the meal even longer with conversation, I didn’t talk with my mouth full. That was the first meal in my life where I sat with other people, eating, and had no conversation. People were asking me questions, but I was acting proper and waiting till there was no food in my mouth before answering them. I never answered them.
Don’t just eat. There is a myriad of ways you can stuff blintzes. Fill them with cheese. Fill them with cottage cheese. Fill them with feta cheese. There are hundreds of kinds of cheeses. Blintzes can also be stuffed with fruit, chocolate, potatoes, chicken, brisket. Make an activity of it, and you will pass the night learning how to fill up your blintzes. Filling blintzes with different berries is a good hour and a half right there. If you want, cheese can be the night’s filling focus.
Do Not Learn
If you learn, you will fall asleep.
The countless number of times I have fallen asleep over the years, in the Yeshiva’s Beis Medrash, is astonishing. The only ones not surprised were the rabbis.
Show up 20 Minutes Late to Class
Knowns as Shiur, the classes are going to happen with or without you. So, do not feel bad if you disrupt the class by showing up late.
If you show up 20 minutes late, looking exhausted, everybody will think you just came from doing something important, like filling blintzes.
That trick got me fired. So, do not do that at your job. This trick also got me a 1.7 my sophomore year in college.
Go for a shpatzeer. A shpatzeer is a slow and steady walk, at a pace that ensures you will not sweat. Therefore, it's not exercise and a religious thing to do on a holiday.
After eating, you will need to walk. The Neshama Yeteira, extra holy soul we receive on Shabbat and holidays, only needs so many calories. The rest will sit on you and stay after the holiday. I have a feeling the Neshama Yeteira doesn't leave, as I put on twelve pounds last Shavuot. I didn't even have twelve pound cakes; I had one. I have a feeling the Neshama Yeteira stays and it has a really slow metabolism.
Walk to the Kotel
Thousands from around Jerusalem, who stayed up all night, gather at the Kotel for the morning service. Start walking as early as you can. One year, I went straight from dinner to the Kotel, and I missed the morning prayer service. That is how successful I was at staying up all night.
Walking to the Kotel will help eat away learning time. Living in the outskirts of the city, such as Gilo, can be beneficial for this technique of staying up to learn without learning. If you live in Har Nof, that is your night.
This method works even better if you're living outside of Jerusalem. It may be forbidden, but the trek will keep you up for days.
I would suggest a slushee mochaccino. It's more fun.
Ritalin also seems to be an excellent stimulant. Chances are that the children have it. Take the Ritalin and follow my methods of staying up all night, and you will fit right in with the academic community.
Warning: Ritalin may be addictive. Try to load up on coffee and cola instead. Caffeine is more socially acceptable. So, stick to mochaccino until you can find Ritalin in drink form.
If none of this helps, bring up anything political and somebody will get passionate. That will keep you up. Bring up COVID, travel, anything about Israel or Donald Trump, and you will be kept occupied by their opinion. Just don't try responding with any ideas of your own, unless if you want to be kept up past sunrise.
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I was going to do Kaparos before Yom Kippur, but I chickened out.
You get it? Kaparos is the tradition of placing your sins on something else, the day before Yom Kippur, traditionally a chicken, and waiving it. He chickened out of the chicken. He might've done it with money in the end. But that would still be without a chicken.
Designated stroller parking area. Something every shul needs, so I can get through the entrance on Yom Kippur... Truth is they should have stroller parking all the time. The entrance is always blocked.
Problem: Merv and Bernie will end up parking there. They already take the disabled parking spots and walk just fine. When it comes to parking, every member of our congregation is disabled.
Side Note: Figured out why so many kids come to shul on Yom Kippur. Because they get to eat in shul on Yom Kippur.