Every mile stone on the calendar is an emotional struggle. I was bracing myself for a very difficult Shavuot. The pasuk on Rachel's headstone is from Megilat Rut. Shavuot has many great memories for me both for my personal growth but time with Rachel. I started doing the all night learning before I became Shomer Shabbat and I have been doing it most years with few exceptions. There were times where times as a teenager the learning was diverted to spend time with Rachel. Last year, I kept running back and forth from shul to home to check on Rachel to make sure she was OK.
I know many people do not stay up all night for various reasons, which is fine with me. This is the first year that I can recall people being actively critical of the minhag. As usual, I surrounded myself with good people for the meals. I didn't have the heart to try to make sleeping arrangements, so I could go learn. 10 minutes before the Rabbi's shiur started my hostess for dinner offered to take Channah for the night. I was thrilled to be able to learn.
The shul was a lot more full than in previous years. I went to my usual learning marathon with the Rabbi. He covers 6 topics (one from each seder of Mishnah/Gemara). As always there is not enough time to cover all of them so as the night goes on there is less time to cover the later topics. This year's topics were: Minhag of Tearing Kriya, Minhag of Staying up all night and learning, When does a Kallah cover her hair, lifnei iver, glatt kosher, and another one that is escaping my memory. Basically the first 3 were in depth and the last 3 were done in 45 minutes. Of course the 15 minute each allocation didn't work leaving 5 minutes for the Glatt topic.
Tearing Kriya- It was interesting going over the source for breaking a glass under Chuppah as well as the people who tried to overdo mourning the Mikdash. The halacha seems clear that if you do not go to the Kotel for 30 days you tear Kriyah. However, there is a minhag that Jerusalemites don't. The main source cited for the minhag is from the ridbaz who condemns the minhag. Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach has some very interesting comments, including justifying the minhag by saying those who live in Jerusalem and don't go to the Kotel every 30 days, don't deserve to tear Kriyah because they don't feel the mourning. Considering how often I go to the cemetery to visit Rachel it was interesting to think about how we should be internalizing the pain of the loss of the Mikdash.
Staying Up All Night -- Staying up and learning really is problematic because of the effect it has on the next day. I have friends who did back to back all nighters so they could watch the Leaf's blow Game 7 against Boston. The Rabbi was relying on the minhag (which is not well sourced), accepting the Rambam half day learning can take place in the afternoon instead of the morning. He personally goes home before Kriyat HaTorah so he can get some sleep so that he can have Kavanah for the rest of devaning.
Kallah covering her hair after Chuppah -- A married woman covers her hair. There are very opinions on to how early the 'married' status kicks in. Rav Ovadiah pulls in 4 factors that allows her to wait until she goes home, most importantly the lack of Yichud room at Sephardi weddings. The Rabbi was still struggling to figure out how to justify the common practise of waiting until the next morning. Through the shiur he mad some interesting distinctions between minimum halachic standards and what one should do depending on an individual circumstances.
I can't remember that last time I had that much energy during learning and davening Shavuot night.. Between eating, sleeping and learning, I didn't have an opportunity to stop and think. Nor even during Yizkor as they were even calling people back in before I finished struggling my way through what I needed to say.
The end result was I made it through Shavuot OK. Today I had a much harder day.