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What Is Lag BaOmer?

What Is Lag BaOmer?

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Lag BaOmer, the 33rd day of the Omer count—this year, Sunday, April 28, 2013—is a festive day on the Jewish calendar. It is celebrated with outings (on which the children traditionally play with bows and arrows), bonfires, and other joyous events. Many visit the resting place (in Meron, northern Israel) of the great sage and mystic Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, the anniversary of whose passing is on this day.

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who lived in the second century of the common era, was the first to publicly teach the mystical dimension of the Torah known as the “Kabbalah,” and is the author of the basic work of Kabbalah, the Zohar. On the day of his passing, Rabbi Shimon instructed his disciples to mark the date as “the day of my joy.”

The chassidic masters explain that the final day of a righteous person’s earthly life marks the point at which “all his deeds, teachings and work” achieve their culminating perfection and the zenith of their impact upon our lives. So each Lag BaOmer, we celebrate Rabbi Shimon’s life and the revelation of the esoteric soul of Torah.

Lag BaOmer also commemorates another joyous event. The Talmud relates that in the weeks between the Jewish holidays of Passover and Shavuot, a plague raged amongst the disciples of the great sage Rabbi Akiva, “because they did not act respectfully towards each other.” These weeks are therefore observed as a period of mourning, with various joyous activities proscribed by law and custom. On Lag BaOmer the deaths ceased. Thus, Lag BaOmer also carries the theme of the imperative to love and respect one’s fellow (ahavat yisrael).

See also:
Lag BaOmer Traditions and Customs
Lag BaOmer Event Search

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Discussion (12)
December 23, 2013
Re: Bar Kokhba Revolt
Although Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and Rabbi Akiva, the main characters of Lag Baomer history lived in the era of Bar Kokhba's revolt, the relationship between the celebration of Lag Baomer and the Bar Kokhba revolt are not brought in the traditional Jewish sources. The Bar Kokhba revolt and the losses we suffered with his defeat are commemorated on Tisha B'Av.
Zerubavel
Beitar
December 19, 2013
Other websites have mentioned the celebration of Lag Ba'omer being in celebration of the 2nd revolt led by Simon bar Kosiba (Simon bar Kokhba) against Hadrian and the Romans. According to this article, however, Lag Ba'omer is celebrated because of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. Can anyone elaborate on this?
Anonymous
Armstrong
April 28, 2013
Anonymous said it best.
Bev Yohai
San Diego
April 27, 2013
The holiday is really called Log Burning ... That is why it is associated with Bon fires...
Les Kristt
May 11, 2012
Lag Ba'omer
I really need a explanation of Lag Ba'omer! What is the purpose of this holiday?
Linda
Alhambra, Calif.
May 22, 2011
Response to bonfires
The custom of lighting bonfires is to commemorate and celebrate the great spiritual light brought into this world by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, through his teaching of the inner, mystical dimension of Torah (The Zohar). On the day of his passing, on Lag Baomer, he revealed many hidden secrets of the Torah, bringing great light into the world.
Anonymous
Brooklyn, NY
November 27, 2010
Why do children play with bows and arrows?
Anonymous
May 11, 2009
Lag B'Omer
Why exactly is Lag B'Omer associated with bonfires? (is it in the Talmud or Zohar?)
Eugene Feldman
Canoga Park, CA/USA.
chabadso.com
May 7, 2009
Lag B Omer falls on Hod sheba Hod do you suppose that the students dying stopped on that day as a message? For if iit represents humility of humility it would perhaps suggest that that is the helpful "tool" to achieve love thy neighbor as thyself.
traci
boca raton, fl
May 7, 2009
Sefirat a Omer and Lag ba Omer
What is the relation?
Luis Roizman
São Paulo, Lulaland
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