Letter: Stop Judging Me on Shavuos

Dear TLS,

I’m embarrassed to write this letter, but I need to get this problem off my chest.

I dread Shavuos. Yes, it sounds strange, right? Why would anyone dread such a wonderful yom tov?

Because people love to judge me on this holiday.

I’m a simple working balhabus. I don’t learn as intensely as others, and maybe I haven’t reached the same level of shteiging. But I daven each day, review some mishnayos and daf yomi, and try to be a good Jew.

When Shavuos comes, I can’t stay up all night learning. That’s the reality. I can manage an hour or two, then my mind shuts down. Instead of sitting around drinking coffee and chatting aimlessly, I go to sleep.

And then the next morning, it starts. People walk around asking each other the same old question:

“So, did you stay up learning all night?”

When I answer honestly, I get “the look.” They stare at me like I’m not even frum. How dare I not stay up the whole night learning, or at least pretend to? The judgmental looks and scorn are unbearable.

As if, somehow because I don’t stay up all night, I am violating the basic fundamentals of Yiddishkeit. This whole attitude just seems so distasteful, and so not in the spirit of Shavuos.

So next time you see me, or anyone else on yom tov, don’t ask if they stayed up all night learning.

You’ll make our Shavuos experience so much better.

Thank you,

N.A.L.

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27 COMMENTS

  1. I think you can just say what you study and ask what they learned. You can completely avoid answering the question on how long you stayed up or if you stayed up. Obviously you did some studying. Turn the conversation to the other person’s learning and ask questions.

    • Nobody is judging you.
      Nobody cares.
      They are making conversation.

      It sounds like you are judging yourself.
      You should be less hard on yourself.
      I think you should read your own letter and let it sink in.

      You are a good guy.
      Don’t judge yourself so harshly.

  2. I think you may want to add a bit of mussar into your daily limud. Sounds like you need a slight self esteem boost. Calm down no one is judging you. No need to feel so bad about yourself. As long as you truly feel you are serving Hashem to the fullest of your ability, hold your head high. No need to convince yourself that everyone is judging you.

  3. Hi
    I hope this letter is a joke but it seems sincere
    I really do not believe that any one looks down at you and if they do they need help
    Most shuls have 2 minyonim and seems no one cares
    It may be your feeling guilty and assume others look at you
    Hatzlocha

  4. Don’t worry about the self appointed judges you do the best you could your 2 hours of learning is just as chushev by hashem as their 6 hours learning schmoozing smoking and drinking coffee besides its immature and childish to go around asking

  5. How late did your Pesach Seder go till?
    Yom Kippur davening?
    Simcha’s Torah kiddish?
    Sukkah dimentions….
    Basically It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.

  6. I can totally relate. And sounds like a really good Jew! But I think he’s a little sensitive. Not everyone stays up a whole night. Whether they feel they will learn better if not, whether other shitos or hanhahagos. And many people stay up most of the night and go to sleep 3:30 or 4:00 am. Specifically to be able to daven with more kavanah. So no one really knows or cares exactly when you go to sleep. If you are moser nefesh and learn as long as you can, you are amazing. Hashem loves you. And you should certainly be proud of yourself. Be you!!
    Have a wonderful Yom Tov

  7. Bravo for standing up and facing everyone honestly! There’s no mitzvah to stay up all night. It’s a minhag. Not everyone is able to do it, and THAT’S FINE!

  8. In the hope this may help someone out there going through something similar. When I was in yeshiva and even now, half the years I didn’t stay up the whole night of Shavous. Myself along with the other top guys in yeshiva. Why? 1) If we weren’t feeling well enough it would mess up the next 2 or 3 days to get back on schedule. 2) Too many people around being busy and bothersome vs purely there for learning and enhancing one another, torah lishma. 3) We were able to learn together the whole day of Shabous from after davening and we could learn without children running around with coffee, we had chavursas and chaburas. 4) We would stay up the 2nd night (on years we felt prepared and it wouldn’t mess up our schedule) and fulfill the mekubalim. 5) The staying up all night is a minhag the mitzva of Talmud torah is vhigasa bo yomam velilah and making someone feel bad is onaaas devarim. 6) Not one year was any of us tired during davening or krias hatorah. 7) If we cared what people thought in our path of yigius hatorah we never would’ve grown in Torah. At least that’s a start.

  9. You sound like a very accomplished person, learning MOSHNAYS DAF YOMI & TEHILIM, that’s really amazing. To be honest, I can’t learn that much either so I just try to say TEHILIM SHAVUOS night.

    Be proud of yourself that you are doing what you can, THAT’S WHAT HASHEM wants from all of us, and yes, it’s much better to go to sleep when you feel that you can’t stay up any longer and get up and Daven like a Menche!!!

    Regarding the people that ask if you stayed up all night, just respond to them, I did what HASHEM wants from me, or just ignore them.

    Have an amazing Yom Tov.

  10. Gain self confidence and stop worrying about what other ppl think of you. It’ll save you so much stress and heartache. You do you, congratulations for recognizing your limits and respecting that and not trying to conform to what other people do.

  11. usually, when people ask that it’s just to make conversation. Don’t take it too personal and if they have an issue with it that you went to sleep, tell them that it’s not a chiyuv to stay up all night.

  12. My husband, a talmid of BMG from R’ Shneur’s days, and a working talmid chochom, stopped staying up all night many years ago for his own reasons. We never felt judged. As mentioned earlier, that’s one reason why there are 2 Shachris minyanim. As others above also mentioned, you are just feeling self conscious about it and that’s making you think others are judging you. We each have our own derech of serving Hashem.

  13. Oh boy. I can’t believe grown ups feel the pressure! My 9 yr old said he is too tired to stay up, but he has to because of the competition, i.e. the next day everyone will be asking how long they stayed up…. but adults???

  14. I would suggest that you stop davening in a mesivta and find a regular shul, because I cannot imagine that this conversation would actually happen in any place other than a mesivta. Every shul that I know of has a regular time shachris and there are at least 10 people there. Time for you and those around you to grow up. Hatzlacha and keep shteiging!

  15. I think that to anyone that it is a given that you stay up, they wouldn’t really ask that question they would be secure in themselves and wouldn’t investigate about others. If someone is asking that to you then it probably means that for them they really had to push themselves to stay up and are feeling very proud of themselves.
    When they walk around asking if you stayed up they most likely are looking for a way to talk about themselves.

  16. I finish the seuda at 10:30 and I learn tikun Leil Shavous and mishmayos Bikurim till midnight & I go to sleep.
    It’s no Halacha to stay up , it’s just a minhug.
    40 years ago while I was still a Bachur my business took off of which by the time I finished my work the birds were chirping, so my father ע”ה told me that his parents wanted him to work in their bakery ( in the old country near Krakow- Bobova) but my father said he would not stay up at night even for a million dollars.
    One year I stood up at night, in Shul I had seen kids as pale as a ghost putting their heads down on the table every few minutes etc. and every year I look out of my window and see people walking home from Shul 7am like zombies, they look like they’re about to collapse.
    99% will disagree with me.

  17. I actually have on my daughters shidduch resume that I stay up the whole night of shevous. I also put on there that I finish my pesach Sedarim at 5 am. In addition I daven the longest shemonei esray on rosh hashana
    I am probably the holiest guy in Lakewood and I really care what everyone thinks about me

  18. You have two good choices. 1) Whisper to the person who asks that you are a closet Brisker – they don’t stay up all night. 2) Tell him that you follow the ways of R Elyashiv – who never stayed up a night in his life!
    ותו לא מידי.

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