This is a manuscript of the book, Seder Tikkun Kallah for Shavuot Night, According to the Custom of the Holy Congregation of Tripoli, which was written in 1689. On the title page, the name of the book is surrounded by a decorated frame of potted, flowering plants. This version of the Seder Tikkun Kallah was written by Rabbi Shimon Lavi, who also wrote the famous Bar Yochai piyyut (liturgical poem) sung on Lag B’Omer.
Seder Tikkun Kallah (order of the tikkun of the bride) is the Libyan Jews form of tikun leil shavuot – the tradition of celebrating Shavuot by learning Torah throughout the night. According to the Libyan tradition, Shavuot symbolises the wedding day between the people of Israel and the Torah. According to this tradition, the Torah is the bride, which explains the title Tikkun Kallah; those who read this tikkun are thus likened to bridal attendants.
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Shavuot - Shavuot, also known as the Festival of Weeks – is celebrated on the sixth of Sivan. Shavuot, one of the three biblical pilgrim festivals, commemorates many different things: it marks the day that the Israelites received the Torah on Mount Sinai; it celebrates the wheat harvest in Israel; and it signifies the end of the Counting of the Omer. It is celebrated with many colourful and festive traditions such as holding bikkurim ceremonies, eating dairy food, decorating the synagogue with flowers and greenery, reading the Book of Ruth, and studying the Torah all through the night (Tikkun Leil Shavuot). In modern Israel, kibbutzim celebrate Shavuot and the bikkurim with processions displaying their produce of the previous year, including fruit and vegetables, farm animals, and even the new babies!
Tikkun Leil Shavuot – Tikkun leil shavuot is the tradition of staying awake throughout the night of Shavuot and studying the Torah. The source of the custom comes from the Zohar, an important book of Jewish mysticism which became popular in the 1300s. The Tikkun includes passages from the Torah interspersed with sections of the Oral Torah (e.g., Mishnah, Talmud, etc.). Other communities do not read from a tikkun but spend the night learning general Jewish texts and ideas. The term tikkun, which appears in the Zohar, is based on an Aramaic word that means "decoration" in Hebrew. Other explanations of the word “tikkun” include “preparation,” namely, preparing to receive the Torah, or “correction,” namely, correcting the mistake of the Israelites who, according to a midrash, slept late on the morning of receiving the Torah and need to be woken up by God with thunder and lightning.
Rabbi Shimon Lavi – Rabbi Shimon Lavi (1486–1585), who composed this version of Seder Tikkun Kallah, was born in Spain, shortly before the expulsion. Following the expulsion he moved to Morocco and from there to Tripoli in Libya. He served as the head of the Beit Din (rabbinical court) in Tripoli and influenced the shaping of Libyan Jewish law and custom. Rabbi Shimon Lavi studied Kabbalah and composed many piyyutim (liturgical poems), including the famous Bar Yochai piyyut that is sung on Lag B’Omer.
Jewish Community of Tripoli, Libya – Tripoli is the largest city in Libya. The first mention of a Jewish community in Tripoli is on a fourth-century Roman road map which details a Jewish neighbourhood. It is speculated that the first Jewish residents of Tripoli were, in fact, slaves. After the Ottoman conquest of Tripoli in 1551, life became easier for the Jewish community, and Jews started moving there from Italy, Tunisia, and Algiers. From 1911 to 1943, Tripoli was under Italian rule, and the Jewish community was treated very well. Jews were completely emancipated and were allowed to work in all professions. There were also Jewish schools, synagogues, and religious leaders. In 1931, there were 21,000 Jews living in Libya, most of them in Tripoli. In 1939, with the rise of Italian fascism, anti-Semitic laws were passed and life became very difficult for the Jews of Tripoli. Those who were British or French citizens were deported to Nazi concentration camps, but most of the Tripoli Jewish community worked in labour camps where, receiving enough food to eat, they mostly survived the Holocaust. The situation for the Jews became much worse after the war, following the liberation of Libya by the Allied Forces in 1945. A pogrom broke out killing approximately 140 Jews and beginning the exodus of Jews from Tripoli. After the creation of the State of Israel, conditions deteriorated for the 20,000 Jews living in Tripoli, and many immigrated to Israel. After the Six-Day War in 1967, most of the few remaining Jews moved to Italy or Israel. In 1969 the Jews were expelled from Libya and their property was confiscated. The last Jew left Libya in 2003, and there are currently no Jews living there.