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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, May 7, 2015—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 (15)
May 6, 2015
To Jeffrey in Brooklyn
Indeed all but five students passed away. One of the five survivors was Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, whose yahrtzeit (anniversary of passing) is on Lag B'omer, and he specifically requested that it be a day of celebration.
Eliezer Zalmanov
for Chabad.org
May 6, 2015
short explanation of lag bomer
After reading some of the questions (what is the significance of lag bomer) I would like to share my understanding of this day. It is the yahrtzeit of rabbi shimon bar yochai, who authored the zohar. The custom of lighting bonfires is symbolic of the great light the zohar gave to the world. There is a custom to play with bow and arrows to symbolize that the Rashbi was so righteous that his generation did not rely on the rainbow to be spared from punishment, his merit alone protected them. There is also a custom to eat carrobs, since hashem made them sprout outside his cave where he studied to sustain him.
matthew poreda
NJ
May 6, 2015
Question
If all of Rabbi Akiva's students died during the first 32 days of the Omer, why do we celebrate on the 33rd day? There was no one left to die.
Jeffrey Wallach
Brooklyn, New York
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
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