Jewish HolidaysLag BaOmer

Why Do We Celebrate Lag BaOmer?

1. Early authorities say that Rabbi Akiva’s students stopped dying on Lag BaOmer and for this reason we cease all laws of mourning for them. Jews of Sephardic origin wait until the 34th of the Omer in the morning.

2. Most opinions say that the anniversary of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai’s death was Lag BaOmer. Rabbi Yonasan Eibshitz writes: ‘Every G-d fearing person should take heed to repent on Lag BaOmer for the merit of Rabbi Shimon will help those who come to purify themselves.
In the book of responsa called ‘Torah Lishmah’ (chapter 293) it is written: “It’s definitely preferrable that one who wants to pray by the graves of the righteous to do so on the anniversary of  the day of their death which is like a holiday and he should learn something there.

Indeed Lag BaOmer is well known for tens of thousands of people going to Rabbi Shimon’s grave in Meron to become spiritually uplifted and seek out salvation and mercy.

Rabbi Meshulam of Voltera wrote of the grave of Sample the Prophet: The Grave of our master the Prophet Samuel hi mother and both of his sons…where over 1,000 people come even from out of Israel, from Syria, Iraq and other places on the 28th of Iyar on the day of his death when his soul became bound in eternal life.”

3. Since Lag BaOmer is a happy day we don’t say Tachanun, (a supplication prayer that is somewhat sad) and on Shabbat afternoon before Lag BaOmer we don’t say ‘Tzidkatecha’ by the afternoon prayer for the same reason.

4. A person counting the Omer should not say tonight is Lag BaOmer. But if he did say it without having in mind that he was counting the Omer he can still say a blessing and count properly.

5. The custom in Israel is to light bonfires in honor of this day. There are many reasons for this. One reason is because Rabbi Shimon revealed great Torah secrets on this day. Torah is comparable to fire as the verse says; “Indeed my words are like fire, says G-d.”

6. Many take their 3 year old to Miron for their first haircut and the Holy ‘Ari’ also did this.

7. Many authorities hold that it’s a mitzvah to make a festive meal on this day. In Hasidic courts, they shoot arrows from bows because the bow and the rainbow are both called the same thing in Hebrew. In the time of Rabbi Shimon a rainbow wasn’t seen in Israel. A rainbow is considered a sign that G-d would really bring a flood to the world and doesn’t only because he promised he wouldn’t. So it’s not a happy sign in Judaism. But since Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai was so righteous in his merit no rainbow was seen in his lifetime.

8. In the book ‘Maor VaShemesh’ it is written that Lag BaOmer is a day that judgments are sweetened.
May the merit of Rabbi Shimon’s memory stand on our behalf.


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