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VIDEO: A Glimpse into the World of the “Anshei Chatzos”

Rabbi Yehoshua Meir Deutsch Rosh Kollel Chatzos[COMMUNICATED CONTENT] 1 a.m. A cold winter night. Relentless rain. Empty, silent streets. From surrounding fields, a jackal howls. A sudden lightning flash illuminates dozens of figures rushing through the rain toward an impressive building on the corner of Admor miVizhnitz Street and Knesset Yechezkel, whose tall windows seem to diffuse not ordinary light but some higher, blissful radiance. Suddenly, things are jumping here, as if it were a sunny midday, not well after midnight in a raging thunderstorm. This is Beitar’s Kollel Chatzos, and these are the “anshei chatzos – the midnight men.”

“Chatzos” is a phenomenon, and this kollel is one of the most moving expressions of that phenomenon. You open a beautiful door, and suddenly, you’re inside. The place is like a beehive—sixty men enthusiastically serving the Creator

In the corners of the central hall, the “avlei Tzion – the mourners of Zion” sit on the ground, bent over their Tikun Chatzos booklets, keening Tehillim and piyutim. Did you think that mourning for the Destruction was a service of earlier generations? Come see how they mourn here in earnest, for the Beis haMikdash, the Exile of the Shechinah, the sufferings of the Jewish People, exactly as prescribed in the Shulchan Aruch: One removes ones shoes, sits on the floor, rubs ashes on one’s head, and laments.

“We mourn not only for the Destruction that was,” one explains, “but also for the soul’s exile into evil desires, sadness, depression, materialism. And we yearn for the Redemption—for all of us in general and for each in particular. The true Redemption, the inner Redemption.”

Around the tables, the “war of Torah” rages. Tiredness has no place within these walls. Every corner is alive. One of the men explains: “The nighttime hours, and especially chatzos, midnight, are the times of greatest clarity. Then the world is still, there are no disturbances. The learning is pure, untainted—more than at any other time. I wouldn’t give up this delight for all the treasures in the world. … ”

An elderly man sits beside a young newlywed. “Our age range is from twenty to seventy,” one of the kollel learners tells me. There are men who work all day, go to bed early, wake at chatzos, and spend the long night immersed in the sweetness of Torah. As one of them testifies, “This is the motor that keeps me going all day.” Beside them sit others who learn Torah by day, as well.

Finally, we meet the Rosh Kollel, Rav Yehoshua Meir Deutsch. His schedule is so crowded that he hardly has time to speak with us, but we ask him a few questions:

תמונת מחזורעם אברכים2

Kollel Chatzos? Why a kollel in mid-night?

He smiles. “Because there’s no time more elevated—or more propitious. The hours of chatzos are the most tremendous ‘eis ratzon’ of all. It’s the first section in the Shulchan Aruch. All the holy seforim praise learning during chatzos and describe this as our People’s oldest, most established, greatest, and most certain segulah. Rebbe Nachman calls it is as much of a segulah as giving a pidyon.

“It’s an amazing time to learn. The gates of Gan Eden are open. In this world, too, there’s no work, no distractions. The holy Zohar brings that at dawn, the Creator stretches forth his scepter of kindness; whoever has merited standing and learning during the night may stretch out his hand and touch it.

“Moreover, there’s a tremendous benefit to the Jewish People in this. Rav Chaim Falagi writes, ‘He who rises at chatzos to engage in Torah draws near the Redemption.’ The Zohar brings that at chatzos, HaKadosh Baruch Hu says to the angels, ‘Let us go down and see who is learning my Torah now,’ and is praised by him, and says, ‘What he decrees and every blessing that he utters, I fulfill.’ And that if Am Yisrael would rise at chatzos, there would be no harsh decrees.

“So we are effecting benefits and salvations for the Jewish People, especially in this difficult period, in Eretz Yisrael and in the Diaspora.”

We’ve met men here from several cities. Why would men who live in Jerusalem or Beit Shemesh come to Beitar, every night? Doesn’t this framework exist in other cities?

“Yes, but ours is ‘the father of the kollel chatzos network.’ This first of its kind with such a large schedule, operating twenty-four hours a day, with air conditioning and a room for coffee and tea the whole time.

“There’s something special in the atmosphere here—the sweetness, pleasantness, brotherhood. Every Erev Rosh Chodesh, we travel to Meron. Every week, we ascend to the two places from which the Shechinah has never moved: the Kosel haMaaravi and Kever Rachel Imeinu. There, during these most propitious hours, we pray for our donors throughout the world.”


Today, there’s a whole empire here. An impressive building, sixty men learning, a library, charitable organizations to help those who are learning and their families. But how did all this start? A person gets up in the morning and decides: I’m starting a kollel?

“I think that this wonderful place began from strong longings. I always wanted that there should be such a group, serving Hashem together at chatzos. About twelve years ago, with Hashem’s help, we merited organizing four or five friends to rise at chatzos, recite the tikkun, and learn together. Very quickly, others joined us. The first time I went to the United States to raise money for the kollel, the idea was received with certain reservations. A kollel chatzos sounded strange. But nowadays, I’m met with tremendous support almost everywhere I go.”


But “tachlis,” Rav Deutsch, you’re supporting some sixty yungeleit here, men with families being given respectable stipends, plus special grants for the holidays. How does one carry all that?

“First, everything here is with miraculous help from Heaven. And we have precious Jewish souls, real partners in this ‘Torah factory.’ One of the most sought-after arrangements is the ‘Yissachar-and-Zevulon contract,’ approved by the greatest poskim. The donor and the Torah learner sign a contract, meriting each with an equal portion in the learning. Of course, for this, I choose only the best learners, those who study constantly and never miss a night. The two become true partners; the Torah learner davens for his donor-partner and his family, every night at chatzos.

“People see miracles in the merit of these contracts, in every area. I myself am sometimes astonished by the power of this segulah. Some have one contract for themselves and another for their business. I’ve witnessed a demonstrable connection between each ‘Yissachar’ and his ‘Zevulon.’ Dozens of times, I’ve seen how on days when Yissachar has learned with exceptional spiritual elevation, Zevulon reports a special success or a salvation in his family. I have many such stories.

“We have a range of other possibilities for participation, too: hourly or daily, through a standing bank order or a one-time donation, each according to his ability. Donors are mentioned by name in the nightly prayers, at the most propitious hour. We daven for them, conduct a pidyon nefesh, and pray for salvation and blessing. The ‘kollel kvittel’ is another most requested segulah, a sort of regular subscription for donors, who constantly update the requests on the kvittel, They are davened for, mentioning each request, slowly, with concentration; and listed on the ‘kollel kvittel’ at the Kosel haMaaravi, Kever Rachel, and Meron.”

כולל חצות בלילה הדמיה גינה

One can finance some chatzos-learning hours of one’s choice. The kollel’s financial burden is carried mainly by ordinary people, not well-to-do at all. Rav Deutsch explains, “For example, for the merit of thirty-six hours of learning monthly, a donor would pay $180; for twenty hours, he’d pay $100.”

Our conversation is interrupted by a phone call—a friend of the kollel, calling from Boro Park, whose little girl has a raging fever. He turns to Rav Deutsch for “first aid”; prayers in “his” kollel. Rav Deutsch at once records the precise name: “Rachel Raizel bas Chava, for a complete recovery.” Immediately, the slip of paper is passed around the tables, each learner stopping for a moment, taking in the name, and directing his learning to the child’s merit.

“I get requests like that all day,” Rav Deutsch says. “The donors know this address by heart. We’ve seen hundreds of miracles.”

One recent story: Brooklyn’s Mill Basin exclusive, seafront neighborhood was in the direct path of Hurricane Sandy, predicted to be about to absorb a heavy blow. “Some of the local families are regular donors,” Rav Deutsch relates. “They phoned me in a panic about the devastation that was forecast. I told them there was no reason to worry; their Yissachar-Zevulon contracts are the strongest possible insurance policy, from the Creator, Himself.

“Still, we weren’t complacent here. The night before the hurricane, we held a special tefillah. Three days later, the emotional phone calls started. Twelve families of that neighborhood had certificates of partnership in the kollel; they all came out of the storm with no damage to their possessions. One of them described what took place as being like a view of the Splitting of the Sea. He was here a few nights ago and told us that the homes on either side of him had been completely flooded. “The water simply skipped over my house,” he said. “There’s no other explanation!”

Studying Rav Deutsch’s letters is like perusing a family album containing hundreds of supporters, members of the Kollel Chatzos family from all over the world. Their lives are entwined in the kollel life. They seek the merit of Torah learning for every reason imaginable—from medical issues, matchmaking, or livelihood to birthdays, weddings, etc. People “order” weeks beforehand so that a specific night can be devoted to their merit, before a crucial encounter, business deal, or surgery, or so that some venture should be blessed with success.

The building is indeed too small, but nice enough for us to ask Rav Deutsch why he built a special home for the kollel.

“Actually, for years, we wandered from place to place. But the holy Zohar brings that a home in which Torah is studied at chatzos—the Shechinah will rest upon it. I yearned to build a special building in which the Shechinah would dwell all day, in the merit of learning at chatzos. Indeed, we have merited to this. The lights are never off; every hour of the day, a group is learning and davening. Besides the midnight kollel, we also have a daytime kollel.

Rav Deutsch wants to build a nice mikveh and has many other plans.

Nighttime among the kollel learners seems shorter; the magical hours disappear too quickly. Before we have absorbed the experience and fully tasted its sweetness, the sky begins to lighten with the first hints of dawn. For the first time since the night started, the voice of Torah gradually recedes; the place quickly empties. The men are hurrying to the mikveh to purify themselves for Shacharis.

But aren’t they tired? On the contrary, everyone seems as wide awake as could be. They seem to have drawn a special strength from each hour anew. The davening is longer than in most places, fervid and fiery. And when the chazzan bursts forth with “Hodu,” the walls ring with a mighty thunder of renewal. The voices ascend, seeming to break through the open windows, bathing the rainy streets with wondrous sweetness.

Beitar, what a breathtaking morning. …


For more information:

Rav Yehoshua Meir Deutsch

Rosh Kollel Chatzos

Israeli telephone: 972-2-5803545

American telephone: 646-4033750

Email [email protected]

Fax 972-2-5805123

For details about the kollel, videos, or to make a donation, please go online

Credit card donations can be made by phone,

Or online:

Checks can be sent to

Freedman Family

1540 40th St.

Brooklyn N.Y. 11218

Or to POB 30067

Beitar Illit, Israel

All donations are US tax deductable










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