Lag Ba’omer

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During Passover and Shavuot, there are seven weeks or forty-nine days. Each of these days is to be counted with a blessing, according to Jewish custom, as part of an extended ritual called Sefirah or Counting of the Omer. On the thirty-third day of the Counting of the Omer is a minor Jewish holiday called Lag Ba’omer. There are different explanations for why the thirty-third day of the Omer is considered to be special and set apart from the others. In this article, you will learn about the more commonly known of these reasons, as well as how the thirty-third day of Sefirah or Counting of the Omer is currently observed by the Jewish people.

One popular explanation for the holiday, Lag Ba’omer, has to do with Rabbi Akiva. He was a first century rabbi who was an authority on Jewish tradition. According to some Jewish people, he had 24,000 students who died from a plague sent from G-d. The reason for this was that his students treated one another badly. They fought and became jealous of another. The thirty-third day of the Omer is the day when the plague was said to have ended. Some people believe that there was not a plague, but that the 24,000 students were killed by the Romans in an attempt to erase Judaism.

Another popular explanation for the significance of Lag Ba’omer is to commemorate the death of Rabbi bar Yochai, who was one of Rabbi Akiva’s best students after his 24,000 students died. Bar Yochai was said to be the supreme teacher of the Torah. His death is said to have been on the thirty-third day of the Omer. On the day of his death, bar Yochai was said to have revealed some great secrets of the Kabbalah.

The period of the Omer is generally seen as a period of mourning. Observant Jewish people do not dance or sing or get haircuts during this period. On Lag Ba’omer, however, these bans are lifted. The thirty-third day of Sefirah is considered to be a day of celebration. Some children receive their first haircuts on this day. Families celebrate together and there is often much dancing. Another common practice on this holiday is to light celebratory fires to honor the enlightenment of Rabbi bar Yochai. While this holiday is no longer a popular one among modern-day Jews, it can be nonetheless a time to celebrate Jewish culture and spend time with friends and family.

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Posted by on Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010. Filed under Jewish Holidays. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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