Thursday, May 23, 2019

DAY 33 OF THE OMER: Lag B’Omer

“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 - Glory
·       Overall Theme: The Glory of His Glory
·       Psalm 78:40-55

Today is Lag B’Omer:

What is Lag B’Omer

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 ADONAI 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 never crossed the mind of God during that time. So a rainbow was never seen to remind God not to destroy the world. 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:

How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert! Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy. How he had wrought his signs in Egypt, and his wonders in the field of Zoan. And had turned their rivers into blood; and their floods, that they could not drink. He sent divers sorts of flies among them, which devoured them; and frogs, which destroyed them. He gave also their increase unto the caterpiller, and their labour unto the locust. He destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycomore trees with frost. He gave up their cattle also to the hail, and their flocks to hot thunderbolts. He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them. He made a way to his anger; he spared not their soul from death, but gave their life over to the pestilence; And smote all the firstborn in Egypt; the chief of their strength in the tabernacles of Ham: But made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock. And he led them on safely, so that they feared not: but the sea overwhelmed their enemies. And he brought them to the border of his sanctuary, even to this mountain, which his right hand had purchased. He cast out the heathen also before them, and divided them an inheritance by line, and made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents.

“Abba ADONAI God, 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.”