Lag B’Omer Starts Tonight – But Why?

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For the last 32 days, Jews the world over have been counting the “Omer” – the days between the 2nd day of Passover and the holiday of Shavuot. During this period, thousands of years ago, a plague raged among the students of the great Rabbi Akiva. Because so many died, this period is viewed as a time of mourning. The deaths stopped on the 33rd day, which is represented by Hebrew letters Lamed (representing 30) and Gimel (representing 3). Thus the Lag b’Omer is the 33rd day of the Omer.

One of only five students to survive, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai called for this day to be marked with celebrations. This symbolizes both the happiness that the plague had stopped as well as an overall view that life should be joyous. In addition to these teachings, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai’s life was characterized by his zeal for learning and sharing his knowledge with others. He was considered a great light that guided others to enrich their lives and spirituality. In his memory and in his honor, great bonfires are lit all over Israel on this day.

During the 50 day period, basic laws of mourning are practiced. There are no weddings, no celebrations, no music and even no haircuts. Lag b’Omer breaks with this tradition. Many couples are married on this day; music is heard through the streets, and people gather to have barbecues and parties.

In this great video, Yishai Fleisher tells you!

Lag B’Omer celebrations in Meron

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