(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)
Tikkun chatzos is a midnight ritual which focuses on mourning over the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash and beseeching God to rebuild it speedily. The poskim and the mekubalim stress the importance of performing tikkun chatzos (See Magen Avraham 1:4 and Sefer Tikun Chatzos by Harav Saryah Deblitzky shlit”a). The Mishna Brurah also writes that the mekubalim emphasized the great importance of waking up at chatzos to say a certain seder of tefilos organized by the Arizal, which are printed in the siddurim.
1. Harav Saryah Deblitzki shlit”a writes that the most preferred method is to wake up and recite the tikkun chatzos and then to learn until sunrise. However, this is extremely difficult to fulfill. He continues to cite many poskim who explain that the most important aspect of this custom is to be awake at the time of chatzos. It is permitted to go to sleep after reciting tikkun chatzos (Sefer Tikun Chatzos. See also Sefer Orchos Rabbeinu vol. 1 page 13, Sefer Nimukei Orach Chaim 1, and Sefer Shulchan Hatahor).
2. The Malbim (Ortzos Hachaim 1:31) and the Mishanh Berurah (1:9) write that one should recite the tikkun chatzos a little before chatzos. However, Harav Deblitzky shlit”a explains that according to the Arizal and other kabbalists one should recite the tikkun chatzos exactly at the moment of chatzos.
3. The Ben Ish Chai writes that for kabbalistic reasons women should not recite tikkun chatzos (Ben Ish Chai Vayishlach 6 and Shu”t Rav Poalim vol. 1 Sod Yesharim 9). The Kaf Hachaim, however, rules that women may recite tikkun chatzos (1:16). For normative halacha, a rabbi should be consulted.
4. It is the practice to say tikkun chatzos while sitting on the floor near a doorpost that has a mezuzah. Many place ashes on one’s head in the area where the tefilin shel rosh is placed. Another practice is to not to wear shoes during tikkun chatzos (see Kaf Hachaim 1:18-19).
5.The Ben Ish Chai writes that one should recite tikkun chatzos even if he does not fully comprehend what he is saying. And even if he does not cry and mourn the loss of the Temple, he should still recite tikkun chatzos (Od Yosef Chai Vayishlach). Rav Deblitzky shlit”a feels that many people refrain from reciting tikkun chatzos because they assume that this prayer and custom is reserved for great rabbis and kabbalists. He cites that Ben Ish Chai as proof that this is not so. Everyone may and should recite tikkun chatzos (See also Minhag Yosroel Torah page 40).
6. According to many authorities, including the Kaf Hachaim, Mishnah Berurah, and Rav Shalom Sherabi, chatzos at night is exactly twelve hours after hallachic midday (the mid point between sunrise and sunset), or chatzos hayom (See Sefer Tikun Chatzos, Chida Moreh Betzbah 45, and Yalkut Yosef). Harav Yitzchak Eisik Yehuda Yechiel Safrin zt”l of Komarno, known as the Komarno Rebbe, writes that tikkun chatzos should always be recited at midnight 12 o’clock (Shulchan Hatahor 1. For a dissenting view see Minchas Shlomo Vol. 2 91:16).
7. There are many calender days where one does not recite tikkun chatzos. For a complete list see Harav Diblitzsky’s Sefer Tikkun Chatzos.
8. Many people are lenient and do not recite tikkun chatzos. While there is very little hallachic basis for this, some feel that this can be explained based upon the view of Harav Yaakov Emden zt”l. Harav Emden zt”l, in Mor UKetziah (1), writes that the obligation to recite tikkun chatzos only applies to torah scholars and in Israel. However, the majority of authorities who do not make this distinction clearly maintain that the obligation to recite tikkun chatzos applies to all people in all countries.
9. If one cannot awaken before morning or before chatzos, then at the very least he should not sleep past the time that the congregation gathers for prayer. The Mishnah Berurah (1:9) advises to wake up early enough to give him enough time to get ready and prepared to pray properly.
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