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What is Lag b'Omer?

by Rabbi Yossi Marcus

  

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"Lag" (spelled with the Hebrew letters Lamed and Gimmel) are the Hebrew letters used to write the number 33. "b'Omer"—means "of the Omer". So Lag b'Omer —pronounced lahg b-OH-mehr—is the 33rd day of the Omer.

The Omer is a seven week period of time between the second day of Passover and the holiday of Shavuot. The 33rd day of the Omer is a day of celebration. There are a number of reasons for this, but here are the main two:

It is a day when we have an extra capacity to tap into the inner dimension of things, the soul, G-d, Torah, and carry its inspiration through the rest of the year.
1. On this day the plague that killed Rabbi Akiba’s students ended (or was suspended, or began to subside, depending on the various opinions).

 2. On this day, the author of the Zohar, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, passed away. He made it very clear that he wanted the day of his passing to be celebrated as a holiday. He said he “had been waiting for this day for my entire life.” He revealed more Kabbalistic secrets on that day than he did throughout his life.

In general, the anniversary of the day of passing is a day when all the good deeds and positive light that the deceased person brought into the world is amplified. It is a day when the soul of the deceased ascends to a higher sphere within the spiritual realms. So on Lag b'Omer the immense illumination that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai introduced is especially present. It is therefore a day when we have an extra capacity to tap into the inner dimension of things, the soul, G-d, Torah, and carry its inspiration through the rest of the year.

See also "How is Lag b'Omer celebrated?"


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Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Passover
A Biblically mandated early-spring festival celebrating the Jewish exodus from Egypt in the year 1312 BCE.
Zohar
The most basic work of Jewish mysticism. Authored by Rabbi Shimeon bar Yochai in the 2nd century.
Kabbalistic
(adj.) Pertaining to Kabbalah—Jewish mysticism.
Shavuot
Early summer festival marking the day when the Jews received the Torah at Mount Sinai in the year 2448 (1312 BCE).
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.