“Today is thirty-three days which are four weeks and five days of the Omer.”
Theme of the Week: Hod - Glory
Theme of the Day: Hod - Hod
Overall Theme: The Hod of His Glory
What is Lag B’Omer
Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr
Lag B’Omer takes place during the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer which counts up to the High Holy Day of Shavu’ot (Pentecost). The 33rd day of the Omer takes place on Iyar 18th on the Hebrew Calendar.
Lag B’Omer itself is not a High Holy Day, but a Traditional Jewish Holiday recounting the Talmud account of 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva who die at the hand of YHWH via a plague during the counting of the Omer because his students didn’t show proper respect towards one another. The 33rd day is when the plague ended. So to commemorate this we traditionally have our haircut at this time so as to show that we have no more reason to mourn, but to rejoice, because in Judaism, when we are in mourning we leave our hair unkempt. Jewish children traditionally do not get their hair cut until the age of three when on this day it is cut for the first time.
Also commemorated on this day is the death of a great sage from the Mishnah era, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai who ironically was one of the surviving students of Rabbi Akiva and is believed to have authored the Mystical Kabbalistic Jewish work called the Zohar.
It is also traditional to light bonfires, symbolizing the Light of Torah that shone through the Zohar which Rabbi Yochai had supposedly authored; also bonfires were set to signal war and thus remind us of the Jewish revolt against Rome by General Bar Kochba. Since we have bonfires we also naturally cook out on this day as well as play with bows and arrows because it was said that a rainbow was never seen during Rabbi Yochai’s lifetime, because of him it was a righteous generation where the thought to destroy the world and then relent, hence seeing the rainbow and remembering the covenant, never crossed the mind of G-d during that time. Also it commemorates temporary victories by the weaponry and armies of General Bar Kochba who revolted against Rome, but because Rabbi Akiva foolishly endorsed Bar Kochba as the Messiah, the revolt ultimately failed.
There is also a legend that Rabbi Akiva and his surviving students would go out into the wilderness to study Torah at a time when it was illegal to do so under Roman occupation and the bow and arrows were taken so as not to raise suspicions of their true intentions.
The Traditional Psalm to read is Psalm 78:40-55:
“Abba YHWH Elohim, I live in a material world and depend upon so many material things. Help me to realize that You are all I’ll ever need, now and forever. In Yeshua’s Name Ameyn.”