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How is Lag b'Omer celebrated?

by Mrs. Sarah Levi

  

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Lag b'Omer is traditionally celebrated with outings to the fields, bows and arrows, and bonfires. The Lubavitcher Rebbe encouraged communities to make Jewish Children's Parades on this day.

The largest celebration for Lag b'Omer takes place in and around Miron, the town near Safed where Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his son Rabbi Elazar are buried. Hundreds of thousands attend the festivities, large bonfires can be seen from miles away and the celebration is unparalleled.

In some circles there are special poetic songs that are sung on this day extolling the greatness of Rabbi Shimon.

Boys who turn three between Passover and Lag b'Omer get their first haircut on this day. Many make an effort to observe this celebration in Miron.

The largest celebration for Lag b'Omer takes place in and around Miron...where Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his son Rabbi Elazar are buried. Hundreds of thousands attend the festivities...
Some Chassidic groups treat the day as a festival, dressing in their festive clothing and holding a banquet like on Sabbath or festivals.

The grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, Rabbi Baruch of Mezibuz, would study the entire Zohar (authored by Rabbi Shimon) each year, concluding its study on Lag b'Omer. He would then take the Zohar in his hand and dance with it for many hours with great ecstasy and rapture. For him it was a day like Simchat Torah.

Here are a number of additional customs...

According to Ashkenazi custom, we celebrate Lag b'Omer by not mourning. Unlike the rest of the days between Passover and Shavuot, Lag b'Omer we celebrate with music, marriages, permission to take haircuts etc.

Sephardic Jews, however, stop mourning on the 34th day. From then on, the mourning is over for the Sephardim. Ashkenazi Jews resume mourning after the 33rd day. These differences are based on varying opinions of the exact details relating to the death of Rabbi Akiba’s students.

See also What is Lag b'Omer? and When is Lag b'Omer?


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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.
Ashkenazi
(pl. Ashkenazim). A Jew of Northern or Eastern European ancestry.
Sephardim
(Pl.: Sephardim) A Jew whose ancestors stem from Southern Italy, Spain, Portugal, North Africa or the Arabian countries.
Chassidic
(Pl.: Chassidim; Adj.: Chassidic) A follower of the teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), the founder of "Chassidut." Chassidut emphasizes serving G-d with sincerity and joy, and the importance of connecting to a Rebbe (saintly mentor).
Rebbe
A Chassidic master. A saintly person who inspires followers to increase their spiritual awareness.
Lubavitcher
One who follows the teachings of the Chassidic group which was formerly based in the Belarus village of Lubavitch. Today, the movement is based in Brooklyn, New York with branches worldwide. The Lubavitch movement is also widely known as "Chabad."
Shavuot
Early summer festival marking the day when the Jews received the Torah at Mount Sinai in the year 2448 (1312 BCE).
Sephardic
(adj.) A Jew whose ancestors stem from Southern Italy, Spain, Portugal, North Africa or the Arabian countries.
Baal Shem Tov
Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), Polish mystic and founder of the Chassidic movement.