Don’t forget the Midnight Prayer. Reciting it is especially important during these three weeks preceding Tisha B’Av, the day that commemorates the Temple’s destruction.
The prayer, called Tikun Hatzot in Hebrew, can be found at the beginning of most Hasidic and Sefardi prayerbooks. Its first part, Tikun Rachel, is recited while sitting on a mat on the floor, to demonstrate our sorrow over the exile of the Shechinah. Some people recite it while wearing a sackcloth and with ashes on their forehead to emphasize our anguish over the Temple’s destruction and over our exile from our Land. The second part, Tikun Leah, is recited while sitting. The elder Kaballist, Rabbi Eliahu Leon Levi
, recommends reciting Psalm 67 while looking at the Hebrew words in the form of a menorah, a graphic which is printed in many prayerbooks. It is also fitting during the Three Weeks to recite the Midnight Prayer in the afternoon. Reciting the lamentation with tears is especially praiseworthy.
Perhaps in a previous incarnation we ourselves were responsible for something which brought about the destruction of the Temple.
The great Hasidic master, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, stated that the main devotion of a Jew is to get up every night for the Midnight Prayer. Here are some of his teachings from his book, “Likutei Etzot,” regarding the importance of Tikun Hatzot:
“HOW precious it is to rise at midnight in order to pray and meditate and study Torah. Try to make it a regular practice. Then you will be worthy of succeeding in the task of separating the good from the evil in the world – which means always to remember your purpose in life. You must recognize that everything you do in this world only has meaning in relation to the World to Come. For the entire purpose of man’s being sent down into this world is only to come closer to G-d.
“RISING at midnight serves to sweeten the harsh judgments.
“THE EXILE has already lasted so long. G-d is only waiting for the moment to return to us and rebuild the Holy Temple. It could happen any time. Our task is to see that from our side we do nothing to obstruct the rebuilding of the Temple. On the contrary, we must make every effort to hasten it. This is why we should be careful to get up each night at midnight and mourn for the destruction of the Holy Temple. Perhaps in a previous incarnation we ourselves were responsible for something which brought about the destruction of the Temple. Even if not, it could still be that our sins in our present lifetime are holding up the rebuilding of the Temple, and this is as bad as if we had actually destroyed it. This is the reason why we must weep and mourn every night at midnight. When we do so it is as if we were actually making a tremendous effort o rebuild the Holy Temple. Then we will be able to draw close to the truth – to the true Tzaddikim and those who are genuinely filled with the fear of G-d. They are the embodiment of the truth, in its beauty, splendor and pleasantness. Through drawing closer to them your eyes will be opened and you will be able to see how far your own development has advanced and in which area you need to work in order to return to G-d, and to know and acknowledge His great and holy Name.”
Rabbi Leon Levi Reciting Tikun Hatzot at the Kotel