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An especially bright rainbow portends the imminent revelation of the light of Moshiach.

Some Lesser Known Lag B"Omer Customs

Some Lesser Known Lag B"Omer Customs

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Some Lesser Known Lag B
An especially bright rainbow portends the imminent revelation of the light of Moshiach.

  • There is a custom on this night and day to light bonfires representing the light of the holiest mystical secrets of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who passed away on Lag B’Omer. On that same day, he revealed these mystical secrets to his students so that they would be happy instead of saddened by his passing. Many people make an effort to purchase the merit of the bonfire lighting in Meron, where Rabbi Shimon is buried, and other places in Israel and abroad. The Rebbe Rashab of Chabad purchased the lighting in Hebron a number of times.
  • Many sing the popular special songs for the day, the lyrics of which are primarily praises of Rabbi Shimon.
  • The holy tzaddik Rabbi [Menachem-]Mendel of Rimanov explains that the game of bow and arrow is played because a rainbow, a sign of G‑d's anger, was never seen during the lifetime of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, for his merit protected the entire generation.
    ...the arrow...alludes to those matters of holiness which defeat the Evil Inclination in advance...
    Reb Mendel's great disciple, the tzaddik Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov (the author of Benei Yisasschar), further explains this game according to what is written in the Zohar, that an especially bright rainbow portends the imminent revelation of the light of Moshiach. As this light is partially revealed in the Zohar, we play the bow and arrow.

    The Lubavitcher Rebbe adds that the arrow, a weapon that can shoot an enemy from a distance, alludes to those matters of holiness which defeat the Evil Inclination in advance, allowing the person to learn Torah successfully. This explains the special connection of the bow and arrow to the innocent young Torah students of elementary age.
  • He also taught that primary trait of Rabbi Shimon from which we must learn is to Torah in a manner of, "Torah was his only occupation." The Rebbe explained that everyone should, in a similar manner, dedicate themselves entirely to Torah, so that even when doing other things, it is noticeable that one's primary profession is Torah. This is particularly relevant to children who have no other concerns to worry about.
  • Another lesson is to increase in the study of the mystical inner dimension of Torah, which was revealed by Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.

Yerachmiel Tilles is the co-founder of Ascent-of-Safed, and was its educational director for 18 years. He is the creator of www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org and currently the director of both sites. He is also a well-known storyteller, a columnist for numerous chassidic publications, and a staff rabbi on AskMoses.com, as well as and the author of "Saturday Night, Full Moon": Intriguing Stories of Kabbalah Sages, Chasidic Masters and other Jewish Heroes.
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