The Midnight Prayer
Crying with the Shechina
Raising up the lost souls
Transcribed and translated from previous recordings of
HaRav Eliezer Berland Shlit”a
”And his hand was holding Eisav’s heel” (Bereishis 25:19)
At Chatzos Layla when Rachel Imainu is weeping so bitterly, how can it be that we manage to find so many other things to do?!
All of the work of the Tzaddikim is to extract the sparks that the Sitra Achra has swallowed up into the klippot. It is written about Yaakov Avinu, “And his hand was holding Eisav’s heel.” Even when he was still in his mother’s womb, he had started the process of drawing out the soul of Rebbe Akiva from the heel of Eisav. And this is why Eisav asked Yitzhak “How does one tithe straw?” (Rashi, 26:27). Why should the wicked Eisav ask how to tithe straw? “How does one tithe salt?” The Baal Shem Tov says that this is a hint referring to the soul of Rebbe Akiva which was in the heel of Eisav, and that this is what caused Eisav to ask all these questions, because any good thing that an evil person says is only because the soul of a Tzaddik has attached itself to them. As it is told (Nedarim 50:71) that Rebbe Akiva and his wife didn’t have pillows and blankets but would sleep on straw. And when Eliahu HaNavi came to them disguised as a poor person, Rebbe Akiva gave him straw (tithing the straw). And from here we see that when Eisav asked how to tithe straw, this was because of the soul of Rebbe Akiva that was attached to him that caused him to ask these questions, because only Rebbe Akiva tithed straw…
The whole mission of Yaakov was to draw out the souls from the heel of Eisav, where the souls of converts had been swallowed up, souls of the greatest people. And the best time to draw them out is at Chatzos. Rebbe Pinchas from Koritz said, “There are some souls which are so holy, the holiest souls in the world, which fell from a high place to a deep pit, to the deepest depths of the lowest klippot. And when the time comes to say Tikkun Chatzos, we can raise up the highest souls from there, and with each and every letter, another soul and yet another soul is raised up.” Just as David HaMelech had the greatest soul, and he came out davka from Sodom, extricated from the lowest depths.
Tikkun Chatzos is the most difficult prayer to say because it is in the middle of the night. But in truth, getting up at Chatzos, this is what builds the new day. This is what renews the person! And however much a person starts his day earlier, at the time of Chatzos, and continues through to the morning, praying slowly, word by word, letter by letter, with songs and tunes, this is how he builds a foundation for the new day and saves the nation of Israel from all the bad decrees. And this is what Rebbe Pinchas from Koritz said, “Only if a person says Tikkun Chatzos word by word, letter by letter, does he raise up all the souls in the world, the greatest ones that fell into the depths of the klippot.” All the souls that return in teshuva are dependent on those who say Tikkun Chatzos, who cry out at night. They are the ones that pull these souls out of the depths of Hell.
If a person would really know what the Beis HaMikdash is, he would mourn and cry out every night at Chatzos. But almost no one feels that it is missing—almost no one needs the Beis HaMikdash. Everyone has plenty of cake at home, bottles of Coca Cola. He’s got food, drink. He doesn’t need the Beis HaMikdash. Baruch Hashem, everyone is lacking nothing. But there are those who really feel that the Beis HaMikdash is missing, just like it is told of Reb Nachman Shuster, who was a simple Jew that spent a period of time in Uman and learned how to pray with enthusiasm, how to say Tikkun Chatzos with tears. And when he returned he started saying Tikkun Chatzos and crying about the Beis HaMikdash. Everyone laughed at him because they saw that he didn’t know how to say the words properly. He would get them wrong. They said to him, “Why are you saying Tikkun Chatzos—first learn Aleph-Beis.” Reb Nachman answered them, “You don’t feel that the Beis HaMikdash is missing. You are talmidei chachamim, ga’onim. You are tzaddikim, so you don’t need to say Kinnos or Tikkun Chatzos. But I, a simple shoemaker, I feel that the Beis HaMikdash is missing.” Reb Mordechai Sokolov and Reb Shlomo Gavriel who were tremendous ga’onim were there, listening to his prayers, they approached him and asked, “Where did you get such a heart?” And he told them, “I received it in Uman.” They said, “In that case, we’ll also travel there.” And this is how they merited coming to Breslov—through a simple Jew that cried during Tikkun Chatzos.
Reb Shimshon from Ostropol saw in a dream that his place in Gan Eden was next to Hershel from Krakow, who was then a Rav in Lublin, an important Rosh Yeshiva, and the head Dayan in Krakow. And he was placed next to him in Gan Eden. But this knowledge was like an evil spell cast on Reb Shimshon. He started worrying about it. “I will be next to this Rav? What will be with me? Maybe this Rav is steeped in the desires of this world, running after money—rich—with a beautiful house. If so, maybe it’s really a punishment! Maybe I need to pray to cancel this decree?” So, he decided to travel to him and check him out. Reb Shimshon dressed up like a poor beggar and knocked on his door and asked, “Would it be alright for me to stay here a few days?” What did Reb Shimshon do there? What was he looking for? What did he want to check? He wanted to check if the Rav from Lublin cried at Chatzos. One day he heard a crying from one of the rooms, and he drew close to it and heard terrible cries. He opened the door and found the Rav from Lublin in a sea of tears, sitting on the ground and crying over the Churban. Reb Shimon said, “Baruch Hashem, now I know that I will be able to rest in peace.”
A person needs to feel, “Rachel is weeping bitterly over her children.” If Mother Rachel cries, then one needs to get up at Chatzos and cry together with the mother, one needs to join in with her crying. A mother cries over the 6 million that were killed in the Holocaust. A mother cries over all those that are killed every day. A mother cries over the souls that they should return in teshuva. How can one know that Mother Rachel is crying at Chatzos and do other things during this time? Rachel is the holy Shechina! Wouldn’t it be proper for you to join in with Rachel? Isn’t it proper that you should join with her crying? A person needs to have a drop of a Jewish heart, a drop of feeling—to say Tikkun Chatzos, to feel the crying of Rachel, the pain of all the generations, of all those who were killed. And with all that a person hears—that Jews are being killed—or if he reads some horrifying story from the Holocaust, through this he can feel regret and shed a tear at Chatzos.
At Chatzos everyone is crying. The whole world is crying: the stars are crying, the constellations are crying—everyone is crying with Rachel, with the Shechina. It is told of Reb Zusha from Anipoli, that in his old age, he saw that he was already weak and couldn’t get up for Chatzos. Therefore, he informed everyone that he would no longer be going to the shul to pray, even so, at the time of Chatzos he appeared in shul. They asked him, “Why did you come? You said you were too weak.” And he told them, “The old woman is crying. What can I do? The old woman is crying. Her cries don’t let me sleep.” And when we give power to the Shechina, crying for the holy Shechina, crying together with Rachel Imainu, she will give us everything, she will guard over us all day long. Rachel rules over the whole world, over all the treasures—she just wants to see someone crying with her. She just wants to see someone feeling her pain. And when a person says Tikkun Chatzos, sitting on the ground, taking a piece of paper and lighting it and putting some ashes on his forehead, then these ashes sweeten all the judgments on him.
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