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Lag B'Omer
Category: Teaching Topics

A HEBREW SAGE MIGHT SAY. . .
GOD’S answers are wiser than our prayers.

 

LAG B’OMER     
"And from the day on which you bring the sheaf of Elevation Offering — the day after the Sabbath — you shall count off seven weeks. They must be complete." [Leviticus (Vayikra) 23. 15 Tanakh, Torah]

 

Lag b'Omer means "the 33rd day of the (counting of the) Omer."  The Omer (a unit of measure) was a barley offering, which was brought into the Temple on the day we start counting, the second day of Passover, to the day before Shavuoth, seven full weeks.  This period is known as the "Counting of the Omer."  {Lag b’Omer is May 14, 2017, 18 Iyar 5777 on the Hebrew Calendar}

 

Every night, from the second night of Passover to the night before Shavuot, we recite a mitzvah (blessing) and state the count of the Omer in both weeks and days.  The first is the week of Chesed (loving-kindness); the second, Gevurah (justice & discipline); the third, Tiferet (harmony – compassion); the fourth, Netzach (endurance); the fifth, Hod/Malchut (humility, [humility in nobility]); the sixth, Yesod (bonding); and the seventh week, Malchut (Sovereignty, leadership). The counting is intended to remind us of the link between Passover — which commemorates the Exodus — and Shavuoth (Pentecost), which commemorates the giving of the TORAH.   It reminds us that the redemption from slavery was not complete until we received the TORAH (The Law).  And, hopefully, we learn from the holiday’s profound message that respect is needed to complete love.   The first 33 days of the Omer are observed as a period of mourning. We do not take haircuts, perform weddings, or listen to music.  Lag b'Omer is the 33rd Day of counting the Omer.  The word "lag" means "33" as it is comprised of the Hebrew letters lamud and gimmel corresponding to the numerical values of thirty and three.  The Omer Period is a time of heightened spiritual sensitivity and growth. The closer Shavuot (Pentecost) draws, the greater our anticipation grows for the climactic celebration of the "GIVING OF THE TORAH" — the watershed (dividing, defining moment) event of Jewish history. 

 

However, the greater the potential there is for growth and building, the greater the potential for destruction. Consequently, in eras when the Jewish People have not lived up to their potential, the Omer Period has become one of tragedy:  In the time of Rabbi Akiva, who witnessed the destruction of the Second Temple and who was the greatest TORAH Sage of his generation from the era of the MISHNAH; 24,000 of his disciples died in an epidemic. The underlying spiritual cause of the epidemic was the student's lack of respect for each other. This sad event and others took place during the Counting of the Omer.  As a result, the Omer Period has become one of semi-mourning in which we don't hold weddings or festivities, nor do we shave or get haircuts.  But because the epidemic was suspended on the 33rd day — Lag b'Omer has become a joyous day of celebration, a minor holiday commemorating a break in the plague.

 

After all his students died, Rabbi Akiva started over and began teaching other students.  One of his foremost students was Rabbi Shimon bar-Yochai, a great sage who lived and taught about half a century after the destruction of the Second Temple.  The ZOHAR (translation: The Shining Light, Glow, Luminescence) is a book so named because its teachings illuminate the darkness and confusion of this world and serve as a beacon of light by which to navigate the vicissitudes (adversity, difficulties, troubles) of life.  Rabbi Shimon himself is referred to by the Zohar as "Botzina Kadisha (Sacred Lamp)."  Lighting bonfires or candles, symbolic of the light provided by the eternal fire of the TORAH, in memory of Rabbi Shimon bar-Yochai, who revealed the teachings of the ZOHAR to the world on Lag b'Omer. In Israel, there are picnics, feasting, dancing, singing, and bonfires are lit — an unusual memorial but one that the rabbi instructed his students to observe.  Many people wait until their son is three before cutting his hair, and on the Lag b'Omer of his third year, they cut the boy's hair. There is also a custom that children play with bows (keshet in Hebrew — the same word as rainbow) on Lag b'Omer.  And of recent, it is a national day honoring Israeli Defense Force reserve soldiers, in appreciation for their motivation and willingness to share the load.

 

As believers in MESSIAH YESHUA, the LORD GOD ETERNAL, we can celebrate the GREAT KEEPER OF THE VINEYARD, for HE carries all our burdens and has set us free as we release our heavy load of sin to HIM.

 

Sha’alu (Pray) for the shalom (Peace) of Jerusalem and all of Israel!
Day 33 of the Omer [Lag b’Omer]  
If you are proud of being humble, you are not!
Shluchot, a Jewish mazel (good–energetic) prayer: "GOD our FATHER, walk through our home and take away all our worries and illnesses, and please watch over and heal our family and others families as well. Please fill the coming days with YOUR DIVINE PRESENCE, Amen."
 As we celebrate Lag B’Omer, let us not just say modeh ani in the morning and then quickly shift to feelings of entitlement. Let’s remember to say "thank you" to the people who do extraordinary things in our lives; but even more importantly, let us especially express gratitude to the people who do the ordinary things that make our lives so filled with blessings. "Thank you! "  

 

Praying for the peace of Jerusalem, is praying for the return of our Messiah and Lord and for the Kingdom of God He is bringing when He comes.  Then God's Will shall be done on earth as it is in Heaven and the world will experience true godly universal peace which is the fruit of Righteousness.

 

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