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MISC-----nitel nacht

nree613 Posted - 21 December 2000 19:48

I am very perplexed with the concept of Nitil Nacht. I am honestly trying to understand it, how could a Minhag come and say that there is a time that it is forbidden to do any type of learning.

MODERATOR Posted - 21 December 2000 19:58

It's the same as Tisha Bav or any aveilus for instance, when we do not learn Torah, since Torah is mesameach us. So too here, one of the reasons given for why we do not learn is that Nitel Nacht is aveilus for when Yoshka was born. Hence no learning. (That comes from Rav Nosson Adler ZT"L quoted by Chasam Sofer).

There are those who prohibit Tashmish HaMitah on Nitel as well for this reason.

emmess Posted - 22 December 2000 14:52

can you give an exact source for "nitl nacht"?

Frum613 Posted - 22 December 2000 14:53

does this include learning "a lesson a day"?

Me Posted - 22 December 2000 16:23

what's nitel nacht? and what does it have to do with learning Torah?

MODERATOR Posted - 22 December 2000 16:42

It is the Minhag of many Jews, especially Chassidim, not to learn Torah on Xmas night. There are numerous reasons given for this custom. Among them: In the olden days Jews could not go out at night to learn during this time because the Goyim were all drunk and dangerous. So the Minhag stuck. Or, the custom is sort like "aveilus", mourning, for the time when Yushka was born.

There are different opinions as to exactly which night this applies. December 25th, January 5th, and January 6th (the Greek Orthodox celebration of Xmas) are among the choices.

"Nitel" begins at nightfall (shekiyah according to most opinions) and ends at midnight. After midnight, they learn as usual.

"A Lesson a Day" is Hilchos Loshon Horah. that is included in the Minhag.

MODERATOR Posted - 24 December 2000 17:55

Sources for Nitel Nacht:

The earliest source I know of is the Mekor Chaim of the Chavas Yair OH:155.

The next would be Chidushei HaRim in the name of Rav Yonason Eyebushitz ZT"L, quoted in Siach Sarfei Kodesh I:522, and Rav Yaakov Emden ZT"L in Sefer Hisavkus.

Frum613 Posted - 25 December 2000 21:25

So which one do we go according to - all 3? also is it the previous nite i.e. dec 24 at night or dec 25 at night?

Me Posted - 25 December 2000 21:25

SO that means I am really not allowed to learn??? or is it just some ppl's minhag? I can't believe this is the first time I 'm hearing about this... I am pretty surprised I didn't even know. Well you learn new things every day.

MODERATOR Posted - 25 December 2000 21:40

It is some ppl's Minhag. If it is not yours, don't worry about it.

Definitely not all 3. Either or. If it's the 25th, it's the night of the 25th, not the 24th.

Jan. 6th is the Russian Orthodox Christmas. Different Kehilos follow different days. If you don't have the Minhag it doesn't apply to you. If you do, then I guess you would know which day you follow.

emmess Posted - 26 December 2000 23:28

Do you really think that these sources are valid enough to stop everyone from learning for so many hours?

It seems a little hard to digest no?

MODERATOR Posted - 26 December 2000 23:42

Nope. It's a Minhag like all Minhagim. If these great Halachic authorities - and many more - thought it was enough, then why shouldn't I?

yossiea Posted - 27 December 2000 16:51

The reason for not learning at night is purely a safety issue. The goyim on the way to church would stop off and beat up Jews in the street. So the Jews stayed home.

MODERATOR Posted - 27 December 2000 20:59

That is but one opinion of the origin of the Minhag. It is brought down in Otzar Minhagei Chasidim p.119 from the Alesker Rebbe ZT"L in the name of "early poskim". Not everyone agrees.

The reason of Aveilus is brought down in Kovetz Michtavim (Chasam Sofer) 4 in the name of Rav Nosson Adler ZT"L.

The Bnei Yissaschar (Regel Yeshara 10) cites a reason according to Kabbalah for the custom of not learning on Nitel.

Benny Posted - 04 January 2001 1:09

How come some people celebrate it on Dec. 25th and others celebrate it on Jan. 5th or 6th?

MODERATOR Posted - 04 January 2001 1:17

Because the calendar of the Goyim is very messed up.

In 1587 the Catholic countries of Europe
dropped 10 days from their calendar and adopted the Gregorian calendar. In 1752, England followed suit. Dates before that year are often referred to as O.S. (old style).

The British also moved New Year's Day from March 25 to January 1, so George Washington was born on February 11, 1731 (O.S.) or February 22, 1732 by the current Gregorian calendar. The Russians did not make the change until after the October Revolution of November 7, 1918 (by the Gregorian

All dates from the Russian Empire are calculated using the Julian calendar. Seventeenth century dates are off by 10 days, eighteenth century dates are off by 11 days, nineteenth century dates are off by 12 days and twentieth century dates are off by 13 days.

In a leap year, things are a bit more off.

Some Goyim still use the old calendar where Nitel comes out about 10 days later.

Saralah Posted - 08 October 2001 14:50

But yushkah did not start his own religion. It was his later followers. Why is yushkah blamed for everything?

Captain Posted - 17 December 2001 18:44

Because he did start it.

MODERATOR Posted - 17 December 2001 19:09

Yes, he did. They just messed it up worse, afterwards. But he did enough damage by himself.

Torah Lishmo Posted - 20 November 2002 13:08

Moderator, I know that I am honestly, really nothing in comparison to the great halachic authorities and chassidish rebbes whom you quoted as sources for this minhag. But I have some questions/problems with some of the some of your points.

First of all, how does a poseik (no matter how great) have the power to enforce a gezeira that could mean an entire night of bitul torah for hundreds, or even thousands, of Jews? Another Tisha B'Av, simply because of the possible danger of encountering drunks, something that is hardly a reason to make a gezeirah for (people can use their own seichel, you don't need to make a public gezera) and something that is no longer relevant today anyway? Why is it important that Yoshka was born on that day (and apparently there are different opinions as to when is nitil nacht, which sort of ruins the point!)?

Is there any source for all of these in the Gem. (btw, Yoshka was born in the times of the Mishna, I think) or even any Rishon!? I am arguing simply to argue, but this minhag really and honestly bothers me to the core.

Secondly, are there any who dispute or actually object to this minhag (aside from those who simply don't have it)? (I don't, c"v, want to be choilek with any of the Gedolim whom you've quoted).

Also, is there anything in any of your sources that implies that the gezerah was only temporary? I know that the Chazon Ish ZT"L was opposed (as well as R' Chaim Brisker, I think) to making a fast for the Holocaust due to the low level of our (his) generation ("we are not Neviim who can establish fasts" was the gist of his words), and in response to the argument that the T"Z (I think it was, correct me if I'm wrong) had established a fast for a certain tragedy in the community, he said that it was done only for a temporary basis.

Lastly, there are two minor points. One, I know that there's a discussion of learning erev Tisha B'Av (the Ramah holds that the minhag is not to learn, but there are many opinions who argue and agree).

The Beur Halach quotes a certain poseik who basically says that it's okay (despite the minhag) and that if he were able in this age, he would even allow Torah-study on Tisha B'av itself (but which is something that no posek has the power to abolish). Please comment. Two, re. learning Shmiras Halashon, my Rosh HaYeshiva told me [when asked about learning mussar sefarim on Tisha B'Av] "What better time to learn Musar than on Tisha B'av!"

Note: I hope I wasn't too arrogant or impolite, but this issue seriously bothers me. Thank you!

MODERATOR Posted - 20 November 2002 13:19

Nobody permitted bitul Torah. The idea is to set aside the mundane chores you would have to do anyway - and schedule them for Nitel. The Chidushi Harim used to prepare his toiletries for the year that night; the Sfas Emes used to organize his budget for the year; the Arugas Habosem used to hold the annual congregational meetings then.

Mitzvos can be done, chesed, as well as mundane chores. There are those who used to simply go to sleep early and waking up earlier to learn the next day. This, says the Chasam Sofer (likutim 31) was the custom of the Yeshivos in Hungary.

The Chasam Sofer (likutim 32) writes that they only permitted card playing and other such useless behaviors are only tolerated for those regarding whom card playing is an improvement over what they would be invariably doing otherwise - but Bnei Torah may not waste their time with such things on nitel.

There is plenty of Mitzvos to do, and even necessary mundane life chores, that we do not need to add and additional bitul torah to the itinerary.

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