The Sweetest Hour

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov taught…
Rebbe Nachman once said, “A Jew’s main devotion is to get up for the Midnight prayers / Chatzot…”
(Rebbe Nachman’s Wisdom, #301)

What does this mean to me?
What is Chatzot? The Hebrew word chatzot is a form of the root “to split,” in the sense of splitting the night into two at its midpoint. That point of Chatzot has been the catalyst of many miracles throughout our history; in fact, an entire song that is traditionally sung at the end of the Pesach seder is devoted to that history. “And it was, in the middle of the night….” Avraham won his battle then; Sarah was released from captivity; Yaakov overcame the angel of Eisav; the last of the ten plagues released us from Egyptian exile; Balshaazar’s reign was destroyed; Daniel solved the king’s dilemma; Haman’s downfall began at Chatzot, and on and on throughout our long history.

The point of midnight is a moment of grace and a taste of redemption, available to us every single night. It interrupts the darkness of the night of exile, and for the two hours that follow the world is blessed with an eit ratzon, a “time of favor.” King David knew the greatness of that time and woke for it every night: “I will arise at midnight to thank You for Your righteous judgments.”

Why did Rebbe Nachman say that a Jew’s main devotion is getting up for Chatzot? What about all of our other devotions? Why is this one so important? If we look through the prayers that are traditionally said at Chatzot we see that they all express profound yearning for the redemption and rebuilding of the Beit Hamikdash. The time of Chatzot is when we take stock of our broken world and our broken selves and turn our gaze to G-d, with real longing for redemption. In this sense, it is the ultimate devotion even if it is not an actual halachic obligation. It is the seed from which all geulah sprouts.

A prayer:
Kind, loving King,
help me pray to You in my own words
every single day
and express everything that is in my heart…
Help me to pray to You each night after Chatzot,
since this is the ideal time for secluded prayer.
Help me enter the innermost recesses of my heart
and search for my good points and cleanse myself of all negativity.
Let me develop my holy awareness,
and always remember the ultimate purpose of my life
and my destiny in the world to come.

(Likutei Tefillot I:54)

The Breslov Research Institute has published a Tikkun Chatzot / Chatzot guide book called “The Sweetest Hour.” For more info or to order, click here.

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Author: Yehudis Golshevsky

Yehudis in her own words: When I first began learning Rebbe Nachman’s teachings with my husband and other teachers, I felt as though I had come home to the personal and vital relationship with G-d that I’d always sought. Today, a large part of my inspiration comes from helping other Jewish women discover their own spiritual potential through the meaningful teachings of Breslov Chassidut. Yehudis Golshevsky has been teaching Torah classes to women and working in Torah publishing for nearly twenty years. She’s a graduate of Yavne Teacher’s Seminary in Cleveland and holds a degree in Judaic Studies from SUNY at Buffalo. Currently, Yehudis is a contributor to Breslov.org and “Pathways”, the Breslov Research Institute’s weekly publication. Since 2006, she’s been taking women’s groups to Uman and other sites in Ukraine for prayer and study. Yehudis lives with her family in Jerusalem.

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