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?I would answer:
- Yes, we can understand this assurance from the Arizal literally.
- We can account for the people who died in the same year that they stayed up all night learning or saying Tikun Leil Shavuos by explaining that although the Arizal thought himself to have ruach hakodesh and thought himself capable of making such a havtacha, in fact he wasn't.
1) The Arizal says to be engaged, laasok. Thus, "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."
2) Did he not waste any time at all the entire night, even when taking a coffee break? Such a person did not learn the entire night, if he wasted a single moment.
3) The davening is included, since it is part of the Tikkun. And the meal is included.
My issue with this is that then it is impossible for the havtacha to apply to anyone except extreme tzaddikim and the malachei haShareis. The Torah was not given to the malachei haShareis, but the promise of the Arizal was.
Can your average Joe really learn every single instant Shavuos night and not be distracted a single moment? When according to midrash, David haMelech tried to do this on the day destined for his death, the Satan managed to distract him for just an instant in order to take his soul. Similarly, if the malach hamaves is supposed to take a person's neshama that year, he can similarly distract him for just a moment. So what good is this segulah, or havtacha?
Putting the definition of "laasok" so high is another way of making the conditions unachievable for your average or even above average Jew.
Not being kabbalistically inclined, I am not sure which part of Shavuos davening is part of the tikkun. If the night davening, OK. But if the day davening, most people are falling asleep on their feet during Shacharis. (Which, BTW, is a very good reason not to stay up all night for learning or saying tikkun leil Shavuos -- there are competing halachic demands which preceded this kabbalistic custom.)
And if a person is capable of staying up and focusing with all the right kavanos through davening, after no night's sleep, and able to stay focused the entire night through, with not a single instant in which his attention wavers -- well, then, he is quite a gibbor, and even without the Arizal's havtacha, I would guess that most people capable of doing this are in very good and strong health, and could be expected to live out the year. (Though of course all is be-yedei Shamayim.)
I see that Reb Akiva from Mystical Paths makes a similar point in the comment section at "A Simple Jew". To cite excerpts:
When a tzaddik gives a segulah, it would seem mighty odd for him to be giving what can only be achieved by tzaddikim. After all, he's giving it to his talmidim or kehilah or chassidim. He can't imagine that they're all tzaddikim and are going to achieve a level of learning / concentration / focus / kavanos / at the highest levels.
If having the nerve to walk home from shul and have ones meal (and not be learning every step) cancels the segulah, then you have a segulah that is at odds with normal kosher behavior.
I would think that if a segulah was meant for only those of the highest level, it would say so. We have practices that are marked only for the most righteous (for example the tefillin of the Ravad and Shimush Raba(?)).