Question & Answer With Rabbi Micha Golshevsky - The Arizal's Assurance
A Simple Jew asks:
Shaar HaKavanos contains the Arizal's assurance that if a person occupies himself with learning Torah on the night of Shavuos and does not sleep at all he will certainly not die that year and absolutely no harm will come to him. Can we understand this assurance from the Arizal literally? How do you account for the people who died in the same year that they stayed up all night learning or saying Tikun Leil Shavuos?
Rabbi Micha Golshevsky answers:
First of all, the language of the Zohar/Arizal is "osek" in Torah. Toiling means at least working to be connected to Hashem either by doing the kavanos the Arizal prescribes while saying the Tikkun or by at feeling inspired by their loftiness even if one doesn't fully understand them. I don't mean merely thinking about the kavanos either. I mean living them. At the very least one should learn Torah in a connected way that is the true meaning of receiving the Torah, whether one knows the kavanos or not.
But I am not sure if I see the difficulty with your question even if you don't take into account the above points. Did these people really waste no time the entire night? Even during the meal or on their way to and from shul? Even while taking a coffee break? The Arizal's prescription for the entire night is from beginning to end. Not many people manage this.
Even someone who has really not wasted a single moment the entire night and learned with connection may not merit this as the following story illustrates:
Once someone came to Rav Tzvi Hirsch of Liske, zt"l, to speak over a great pain he had in his heart. "I saw in sefarim that someone who doesn't speak any mundane words for 40 days will merit ruach hakodesh. I did this but it didn't help me in the least! Where did I go wrong?"
Rav Tzvi Hirsch asked about his davening during this period. When the man confirmed that he had not always focused on what he said, Rav Hirsch said, "Your tefilos without focus are an aspect of mundane speech as far as the level of attaining ruach hakodesh is concerned.
The same is true regarding Shavuos davening. This is especially true here since, kabalistically, part of the tikkun of Shavuos is the davening.
Yet another reason why one may not merit this is because another part of the tikkun is the meal of Shavuos night. It is one of the highest meals of the year and one who is not connected while eating this meal may not merit the "segulah." Let us not forget the mikvah of Shavuos night which is one of the highest of the entire year. The Arizal discusses all of this
One reason why this segulah is brought in many places is because it teaches the power of the learning on Shavuos night. On Shavuos we receive the Torah. When the entire nation accepted the Torah at Sinai, they corrected the sin of Adam HaRishon and nullified death. Similarly, a person who takes on the yoke of Torah and avodas Hashem on this holy night can nullify death for the entire year. The promise is regarding someone who does it right. Sometimes someone who is simple can draw down the highest supernal illuminations by doing their best.
While we are on segulos, let me give you another one to ponder. The Chida writes that one who merits true humility will not be harmed or damaged in anyway. Even if it is decreed for him to die, he will live a long life of fulfillment. Of course, attaining true humility is a lifetime of toil. Hashem should help us all come to true humility, the only genuine way to learn Toras Hashem with dveikus!