What exactly is the festival of Lag B'Omer?

The seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot are counted off day by day, and a blessing is recited each night at the conclusion of the evening service. Because of the counting, this period became known as the "sefirah" (counting) period.

Lag B'Omer occurs on the thirty third day after the second day of Passover. (May 6th this year) The Hebrew word lag is an acronym made up of two Hebrew letters, lamed and gimel, which have a numerical value of thirty-three. Special attention is paid to Lag B'Omer because according to the Talmud a plague that had struck down many thousands of the students of Rabbi Akiba ended on Lag B'Omer. Because of this event, Lag B'Omer has also been called Scholars' Day.

According to Jewish mystics, Lag B'Omer marks the day of the death of Rabbi Simeon bar Yochai, who is the alleged author of the Zohar, the Book of Mysticism. On the day of his death he is said to have revealed many secrets to his students. The day was known as "Hillula de-Rabbi Simeon bar Yochai, "hillula" being the Aramaic word for "wedding." For mystics, it is a day which marks the harmonious union of heaven and earth. Celebrations include merrymaking at the grave of Rabbi Simeon on the mountain of Meron. This is in keeping with his expressed wish that the day of his death be celebrated, not mourned.

Rabbi Ron

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