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Lag BaOmer Customs and Traditions

Lag BaOmer Customs and Traditions

  • It is traditional to light bonfires on Lag BaOmer eve. These commemorate the immense light that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai introduced into the world via his mystical teachings. This was especially true on the day of his passing, Lag BaOmer, when he revealed to his disciples secrets of the Torah whose profundity and intensity the world had yet to experience. The Zohar relates that the house was filled with fire and intense light, to the point that the assembled could not approach or even look at Rabbi Shimon.
    By far, the largest Lag BaOmer celebration takes place in and around Rabbi Shimon’s tomb, located in the northern Israeli village of Meron. Hundreds of thousands attend the festivities, and the round-the-clock celebration, singing and dancing are unparalleled.
  • Children customarily go out into the fields and play with imitation bows and arrowsChildren customarily go out into the fields and play with imitation bows and arrows. This commemorates the midrashic tradition that no rainbow was seen during Rabbi Shimon’s lifetime. Rainbows first appeared after Noah’s flood, when G‑d promised to never again devastate the world. When the world is deserving of punishment, G‑d sends a rainbow instead. Rabbi Shimon’s merit protected the world, rendering the rainbow superfluous.
  • The Lubavitcher Rebbe encouraged the practice of arranging children’s parades on Lag BaOmer in celebration of Jewish unity—a major Lag BaOmer theme.
  • In some circles it is customary to eat carobs on Lag BaOmer. This commemorates a lifesaving miracle that Rabbi Shimon experienced. For a period of thirteen years, Rabbi Shimon and his son were fugitives from the Roman regime, in hiding in a cave in northern Israel. Miraculously, a carob tree grew at the entrance of the cave, providing nourishment for its two holy occupants.
  • All the Omer mourning practices are suspended on Lag BaOmer. Permitted are weddings, haircuts,1 music, etc.
There are some who, based on kabbalistic tradition, do not take haircuts even on Lag BaOmer.
Rabbi Naftali Silberberg is a writer, editor and director of the curriculum department at the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute. Rabbi Silberberg resides in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Chaya Mushka, and their three children.
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louise leon PA, USA May 9, 2017

Since I came to Chabad later in life, I still have enormous gaps in my education. The story of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai is totally engrossing. I had the honor of attending services in Boro Park many,many years ago when Rabbi Schneerson led the services. I didn't understand the immense impact of the Rabbi, however now as a senior adult, I am somewhat catching up on my Jewish identity education.
It just keeps getting better and better.
Thank you all so much for your guidance as I stumble along my path to Hashem. Reply

Llandon Ross May 16, 2014

Haircuts are permitted just for upsherin right ? Reply

Jay Schwartz San Diego, California May 15, 2014

Haircuts So this year Lag B'Omer falls on Sunday, May 18, 2014.

Can we also get haircuts on Friday, before Shabbat? Reply

Mrs. Chana Benjaminson via May 8, 2012

Carobs Try ethnic fruit and vegetable stores and/or natural food stores. Reply

Anonymous Jupiter, FL May 8, 2012

carob pods Sorry to bother you, but I have been searching for carob (near West Palm Beach,FL. I remember enjoying tmem as a kid.

Can you help? Reply

Barry Levine Seagate, New York May 24, 2011

I want everyone and everybody to know that we had a great time here in Seagate on Lag B'omer. Good food supplied by several families and we even had a line dancing session for two and a half hours. The cost for everything was one dollar and if you said that you did not have a dollar you were told to just walk in and enjoy. This is a great place to live and breathe and eat and dance and be merry. Reply

Geoff Orono, ME May 17, 2011

I'm constantly amazed by how FUN and alive Judaism can (should) be. I wish this had been my experience growing up. I'm happy that I can introduce some of the joy in Judaism to my children. Reply

Joe Shmo April 20, 2010

this is cool Reply

Anonymous Montreal, canada May 11, 2009

Lag B'omer Thanx for some insight. I may now indeed participate in the MTC Bar B Q Reply

Anonymous May 11, 2009

Additional Customs initiated by the Rebbe: To give tzedakah, amounts of 18, corresponding to Lag Baomer, the 18th of Iyar.
To recite Psalm 33, corresponding to Lag Baomer (the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer). Reply

Levi Silman Cape Town, SA June 4, 2008

Source According to the Sdai Chemed the reason is that we should each light a yartziet candle for Rabbi Shimon. Since it's the day of unity we light a bonfire, many "candles" coming together in unity. Reply

Menachem Posner for May 25, 2008

RE: source Bnei Yisachar (Iyar 3:3) cites this reason, among others, for the bonfires which we light on Lag B’Omer.

Some of the other reasons are:

a. Lag B’Omer is1 7 days before the Holiday of Shavuot when we received the Torah which is compared to a fire (“for the commandment is a lamp, and Torah is fire”—Proverbs 6:23). 17 is the numerical value of tov – “good”; a reference to the Torah which is called “good” (see Psalms 119:72).

b. On the last day of Rabbi Shimon’s life, he was permitted to reveal the deepest secrets of the Torah. Since there was much to teach, he delayed the sun’s setting until he had finished transmitting all he wished. We increase in light in commemoration of this miraculously elongated day. Reply

Anonymous May 22, 2008

is there a source for the meaning of the bonfire Reply