Whoever feels the awe of God in his heart should rise at midnight and mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple…
Whoever feels the awe of God in his heart should rise at midnight and mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple (Orach Chaim 1:3). Tikkun Chatzot (the Midnight Lament) is the prayer recited to mourn the destruction of the Temple (Mishnah Berurah 1:9).
Come hear the words of the Talmud, the Midrash and the Shulchan Arukh. Come see the teachings of the Zohar, the Kabbalah and virtually all of the Sacred Writings. They all speak about the importance of Tikkun Chatzot, the importance of dragging oneself out of bed in the middle of the night to recite a few specific Psalms, to be moved to feel the bitterness of our national and personal loss by reciting a few selected dirges. Chatzot is the breaking of sleep, which is one-sixtieth of death” (Berakhot 57b). It is like a ray of light in the darkest moment of night. In fact, Rebbe Nachman teaches: The main devotion in serving God is getting up for the midnight prayer (Rebbe Nachman’s Wisdom #301).
Conceptually, the Holy Temple corresponds to da’at (knowledge). When a person’s mind/knowledge is pure it is as if the Holy Temple were built. However, when man’s mind/knowledge/intellect is blemished, then this is indicative of the destruction of the Holy Temple (Likutey Moharan II, 67).
The importance of dragging oneself out of bed in the middle of the night to recite a few specific Psalms, to be moved to feel the bitterness of our national and personal loss!
The past is gone. God’s House was destroyed nearly two millennia ago. Presently, He is waiting to return to us (and for us to return to Him) to rebuild the Holy Temple. Even if we argue that it was not we who caused the destruction of the Temple, the Talmud teaches that we are responsible: If the Temple is not built in one’s lifetime then it is as if it was destroyed in one’s days (Yerushalmi, Yoma 1:1). Or, perhaps in a previous incarnation we actually did cause the destruction of the Temple. Therefore, it is fitting that each of us makes certain that at least we are not responsible for the delay in rebuilding it. Therefore we must make the effort to get up for Chatzot and mourn the destruction of the Temple. God has promised to reward all those who mourn by witnessing the rebuilding of the Temple and Jerusalem (Likutey Moharan II, 67).
The main devotion in serving God is getting up for the midnight prayer!
Being distant from God is like being asleep: the deeper the sleep, the harder it is to be aroused to serve God. Furthermore, sleep is compared to “lesser” wisdom, and unconscious existence, while awakening is awareness. Thus, rising for Tikkun Chatzot is akin to becoming aware of one’s existence and the need for making good use of one’s life. It is also analogous to finding the good points in oneself, within the “darkness” that surrounds him. The great value in rising for Chatzot, is that it “breaks” sleep and eliminates the distance from God (Likutey Halakhot, Hashkamat HaBoker 1:12).
(Taken from the book Crossing the Narrow Bridge: A Practical Guide to Rebbe Nachman’s Teachings – chapter 8: Prayer)