Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai told his students to make Lag BaOmer, the anniversary of his death, a day of celebration. All over the world, children march in Lag BaOmer parades. We show everyone how proud and happy we are to be Jewish and to keep the Torah and its mitzvos.

But why do we celebrate Rabbi Shimon’s yahrzeit? We don’t celebrate the yahrzeits of many other great Sages who lived in his time.

The Talmud tells us that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was different.

Think about the adults whom you know. What do they do? How do they spend their day? Our Sages tell us that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai’s “occupation was Torah study.” That’s what he did all day. He spent all of his time studying Torah.

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai should serve as an example for us. But how? We do many other things during the day besides studying the Torah.

Yes, we do. But Rabbi Shimon’s example teaches us how involved we should be at the time we do study. We should concentrate totally on what we are studying as if this is our only occupation; we shouldn’t be thinking about anything else.

We can learn the same lesson from another teaching of our Sages. Our sages tell us that “the Torah was given only to the people who ate manna.”

Does that mean that others do not have a share in the Torah?

No! The Jews who traveled in the desert could study the Torah with no worry or bother. Their food fell from the sky, their clothes grew with them, and the clouds of glory took care of their washing and ironing. Since their needs were taken care of, they could put all their energy into learning Torah.

Our Sages tell us to try to concentrate on our studies in the same way the Jews in the desert did. This is what Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai did. In the time we study, we can follow this example and study the Torah with all our energy.

(Adapted from Sichos Lag BaOmer, 5733)