LAG BA’OMER

Lag Ba’Omer

Lag Ba’omer is the 33rd day of the count of the Omer and the rules of mourning we keep during Sefirah do not apply. We listen to music, cut hair, and light this big bonfire. Why?

1The students of Rabbi Akiva stopped dying on this day, hence the cessation of mourning.
2Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai passed away on this day, hence the bonfire.

Who was Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai?

He was one of the premier students of Rabbi Akiva who expounded on the mystical Kabbalistic aspect of Torah. He had to flee for his life at one point. It happened due to a conversation two folks were having, where one Jew commented that the Roman conquerors were good people because they built roads in Eretz Yisroel. Rabbi Shimon retorted, “They only do good for their own good; they don’t mean us.” An informer overheard and went to tell the Romans, which brought a price on Rabbi Shimon’s head. The Romans would have loved to kill him. However, Rabbi Shimon had more to do in life and wasn’t out to oblige the Romans by being caught. He fled town with his son. They found a cave in the hills, and what was good for King David was good for them…the cave became a place of refuge.

Customs we do on Lag Ba’omer

Hillulah

Hillulah

To make a bonfire in honor of the Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.  He taught us the Zohar (Kabbalah)  — bringing light to the world through his Torah teachings.  So we light up a big fire to symbolize the brightness of Torah he brought to us.

To play with bows and arrows

To play with bows and arrows

One reason is that during the times of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai no rainbow was seen (rainbows are the sign that the world deserves a flood and when there is a very righteous person living in the world, there is never a rainbow because that person’s merit means G-d thinks the world is worth it just for that righteous person). Some of our holy commentators teach that the bow also symbolizes heartfelt personal prayer.

Hair Cutting in Meron

Hair Cutting in Meron

Some call it an Upsheren (Yiddish). Others call it a Chalaka (Sefardic).  But the custom is the same. Little boys’ hair is left to grow from birth until three.  And then, snip, snip, the hair comes off.  Rabbi Chaim Vital write that there is an ancient Minhag, a custom, to do a boys Upsheren-Chalakah at the Kever of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, in Meron on Lag Ba’Omer. Continuing in that custom, many fathers will make the trek to Meron on Lag Ba’Omer to cut their sons’ hairs.  Piles and piles of hair, smiling newly maturing young boys, the tradition of flourishing young trees coming of age will be seen this year in Meron.

Tzedaka in Honor of Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai

Tzedaka in Honor of Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai

There is a time-tested formula of praying for salvation in the merit of the holy Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and donating money to Tzedaka in his honor.  Some of the written ancient sources for this custom note that this day is a powerful one in which to pray for Parnassah, a good livelihood, as well as a very potent day for those who are childless to get their prayers finally answered.  For those who cannot make it to Meron, emissaries are also used to pray and distribute Tzedaka in Israel on this auspicious day. This year, you too, can have someone pray for you and your family in Miron on Lag Ba’Omer! Join Here

Combine The Merit Of Honoring Rebi Shimon With The Merit Of A Chai Donation Towards Torah Learning In Eretz Yisrael And a special emissary will Daven for You and Your Family in Miron on the Day of Lag Ba’Omer.

 Lag Ba’omer in Belz

Light up the bonfires, sing and dance, and find favor in this wonderful world of ours which is full of physical blessings which we can use for the worship of our Creator.

  • The Big Night

    As the night of Lag B’omer falls, thousands of Chassidim (followers) have come to be with the Rebbe for this special day. When the Rebbe enters the huge shul, know as The Heichal, he lights special candles in memory of Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai.

    1. Lag Bomer
  • Lighting up the Night

    In the courtyard of the shul a large bonfire lights up the Jerusalem skyscape. Just as the hidden Torah taught by Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai lit up the world with spirituality, the bonfire on Lag Ba’Omer illuminates a Chassidic bren on Lag Ba’Omer.

    2. Lag bomer
  • Lighting Up The Night

    The Rebbe joins in the joyous singing and dancing on the balcony of his home, which overlooks the large courtyard of the Shul.

    3. Lag bomer
  • Lighting up the Night

    In the courtyard of the shul a large bonfire lights up the Jerusalem skyscape. Just as the hidden Torah taught by Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai lit up the world with spirituality, the bonfire on Lag Ba’Omer illuminates a Chassidic bren on Lag Ba’Omer.

    4. Lag bomer
  • Uplifted Dancing

    Dancing is one of the highest forms of spiritual communication. The Rebbe joins his Chassidim dancing in honor of Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai. Feet get lifted, souls get uplifted, the singing carries those there to higher realms.

    5. Lag bomer
  • Uplifted Dancing

    Dancing is one of the highest forms of spiritual communication. The Rebbe joins his Chassidim dancing in honor of Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai. Feet get lifted, souls get uplifted, the singing carries those there to higher realms.

    6. Lag bomer
  • Going to Miron

    On the day of Lag B’omer the Rebbe does not go up to Miron. In his place he will send his only son Harav Aron Mordechai who will spend the morning hours of Lag B’omer in Miron with his sons.

    7. Lag bomer
  • Upsheren – Chalake

    During the day of Lag B’omer tens of young boys who are turning 3 years old will come to the Rebbe’s house where he will start their Upsheren and cut the first lock of hair.

    In this image the Rebbe is doing the Upsheren for one of his grandsons on Lag B’omer.

    8. Lag bomer
  • Tish  – Gathering for a meal

     

    In the afternoon, after returning from the long trip to Miron, thousands on chassidim will gather in the Tish Hall for the Lag B’omer Tish, in honor of the Hilula of Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai.

    9. Lag bomer
  • Tish  – Gathering for a meal

    In the afternoon, after returning from the long trip to Miron, thousands on chassidim will gather in the Tish Hall for the Lag B’omer Tish, in honor of the Hilula of Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai.

    10. Lag bomer
  • Tish  – Gathering for a meal

    During the Tish special songs about Rabi Shimon are sung and the Rebbe speaks about the greatness of the day.

    11. Lag bomer

Connecting to Spirituality through the Physical

A carob tree grew right outside of the cave and a river ran through it. For years Rabbi Shimon and his son sat and learned Torah, the highest mystical parts of it, there in the cave. Eventually a messenger came and told them the decree against them was taken away; the Romans had lifted the death warrant. At that welcome news, Rabbi Shimon and his son left the cave and reentered the world population.

As they were walking around outside for the first time, they saw a man busy with plowing his field. The many years Rabbi Shimon and his son had been wrapped up in only spirituality made it hard for them to understand how people could waste their time on physical needs. They, therefore, looked askance at the world, their gaze accusing. From that look, they set fire to the field. A voice came out from Heavens saying, “Did you come out of the cave to destroy My world – turn around and go back to the cave.”

Pronto – the two great mystics returned to the cave and learned for another few years. After a few more years immersed in Torah study non-stop, they decided to emerge again from the cave. This time it was Erev Shabbos when they re-entered civilization. The first thing they saw was a man with two sprigs of sweet smelling flowers. They asked him what it was for – and he said he was taking those sprigs home L’Kavod Shabbos. Ah, that was the key, physicality was there to serve spirituality. Now they could look at the world, with all its inherent physicality and still find favor in it, for all that physicality is just latent spirituality.