You have jointly decided that your wedding take place on the auspicious and joyous day of Lag BaOmer. This day is associated with the great Tannaitic Sage Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. He is credited for compiling the Holy Zohar in which he revealed many esoteric Torah teachings.

Tradition has it that Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai expired on this day. Logic would dictate that it be observed as a sad day and a day of fasting. Nevertheless, it is customary to be joyous on this day since he specifically requested that the day of his passing should be a day of happiness because on that day he becomes united with his Maker.

It is related in the Zohar (Vayikra 59b) that once there was a drought. The Rabbis decided to approach Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai to ask him to offer prayers that the earth be blessed with rain.

Upon seeing them arriving he expounded the verse “Hineih mah tov umah na’im shevet achim gam yachad” — “How good and how pleasant is the dwelling of brothers also in unity” (Psalms 133:2). Rabbi Shimon asked, “Isn’t the word ‘gam’ — ’also’ — superfluous? He went on to explain that this verse refers to the golden cherubs that were atop the Aron — the Holy Ark. They looked like identical twins, one male and the other female, and Scripture describes them in fraternal terms: “upeneihem ish el achiv” — “And their faces were one toward another”(Shemot 25:20).

The cherubs served as a barometer of the intensity of G‑d’s relationship with Israel. When they faced each other, this indicated G‑d’s pleasure with Israel. However, when the cherubs turned away from each other, this demonstrated G‑d’s displeasure with Israel (see Yoma 54a). Thus, our verse states that when the two “brothers,” i.e., the male and female cherubs, were seen to dwell together, the Jews knew that Yachad — the One (יחד), Hashem, was also (גם) with them.

“I see,” said Rabbi Shimon, “you have come to me because the male is not looking at the female. You may return because I see prophetically, today, that they will again look at each other face to face, and there will be rain.”

The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that Rabbi Shimon’s profound message was that the direction of the faces of the cherubs is a reflection of how Jews in this world relate to each other. When their faces are turned away from another, G‑d forbid, it means that there is a profound lack of ahavat Yisrael — love of a fellow Jew — and a lack of achdus Yisrael — unity among Jews. When such is the case, Hashem, too, is not pleased and He, also, so to speak, turns His face from the people and the land. However, when ahavat Yisrael and achdut Yisrael prevail, Hashem cherishes the love and unity that prevails among His children and in turn, gam yachad also He — the One and Only — is with them and provides all their material needs in abundant measure.

My dear Chatan and Kallah — may the words of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (on whose day you became united and have the greatest love for each other), with the clarification offered by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, always ring in your ears.

Incidentally, the word geshem is not limited only to rain. It is much more encompassing. It includes all gashmiyot — physical and material needs.

We all want our gashmiut to be blessed, plentiful, blissful and a source of happiness. How does one merit this?

The way to achieve this is by shevet achim. When the greatest of friends — the husband and wife — are united and communicate with each other from unity and love. Then Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai assures that gam yachad — Hashem, the One and Only — is also with them, and He showers upon them gashmiyut — all the best of physical and material needs.

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The mention of the words “Lag Ba’Omer” instantaneously brings to mind the great Sages Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. For thirty three days during the Omer counting we observe a national period of mourning. A deadly plague struck during these days, causing the demise of Rabbi Akiva’s 24,000 students.

Rabbi Akiva did not permit this tragedy to deter him from propagating Torah study. He ordained five students and with them continued his indefatigable efforts of assuring the continuity of Torah among the Jewish people. One of these five was Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who years later passed away on this day and requested before his demise that the day of his passing be celebrated as a joyous occasion.

There are many fascinating and awesome stories related about this exceptionally great Torah Sage. In the Zohar (Vayikra 59b), which was written by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, and which incidentally is the foundation for esoteric Torah teaching, it is related that when there was an urgent need for rain and the Rabbis approached him to intercede. He expounded for them the verse “Hineih mah tov umah na’im shevet achim gam yachad” — “Behold how good and how pleasant is the dwelling of brothers in unity” (Psalms 133:2), and rain came down.

Most commentaries explain that the Psalmist is referring to a future lofty state of bliss.

According to Rashi the verse refers to the time when Hashem will unite together with the Jewish people in the Beit Hamikdash.

According to Radak the verse refers to the harmony and unity that will exist between King Mashiach and the Kohen Gadol, who will both lead the Jewish people.

According to Metzudat David it refers to the Messianic era when the Jewish people will dwell in their land in brotherly love and the Kingdom of Israel will be united under one king.

Finally, according to the Zohar the achim — brothers — who will dwell together represent an analogy to the male and female countenances of the Cherubs above the holy Ark.

All these interpretations are indeed correct and lofty. However, permit me at this time to share with you my own interpretation, which refers to our present era and speaks of you, my dear Chatan and Kallah as you stand under the Chuppah canopy and contemplate the blissfuljourney that lies ahead of you.

In my simple interpretation I base myself on the Zohar that achim — the brothers — the Psalmist talks of can be two people who are very close friends, such as a Chatan and Kallah or a husband and wife.

The blessing of your well-wishers, and something you also pray for, is that in your abode and throughout your married life there should be peace and harmony, brotherly love and unity.

Of course, shevet achim yachad — dwelling together in brotherly unity — is good and pleasant; the Psalmist, however, goes a step further. He says there is another important ingredient needed and that is gam yachad.

The words “gam yachad” — lit. “also together,” may be translated “also [with] the One” i.e., together with G‑d. That is, that the two partners not only live in harmony among themselves, but also bring G‑d into their life so that their “brotherhood” is directed and guided by the teachings of G‑d in Torah. This is an awesome state to behold and a situation that can truly be described as good and pleasant.

Hopefully, you will take G‑d into your partnership and as faithful partners, all your decisions will be made having in mind the interest, requests and desires of your “partner” — Al-mighty G‑d. For dealing faithfully with your partner, He will reciprocate and do His share to bring you material and spiritual success and Mazal Tov — good fortune.