Sunday, May 22, 2011

LaG BaOmer - An Overview

5tjt by Rabbi Yair Hoffman

The Ramah Shulchan Aruch (OC 493:2) that on LaG BaOmer we engage slightly in Simcha – joy.  Commemorating LaG BaOmer is a serious matter.  The Mogen Avrohom cites the Kavanos HaArizal that discusses a certain individual who had the habit of reciting Nachem every day.  He continued to do so on LaG BaOmer as well.  For doing so he was punished.  We see, therefore, that one should take the words of the Ramah quite seriously.
A number of reasons are cited by Torah authorities for commemorating Lag BaOmer:

   1. It commemorates the students of Rabbi Akiva who ceased dying during this day – although the deaths persisted between Pesach and Shavuos. (Shla Psachim 525).
   2. This day is the Yartzeit of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai who revealed the inner secrets of the Torah (Chayei Adam Moadim 131:11)
   3. This is the day that Rabbi Akiva granted ordination to his five students – among them Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai – they did not die in the plague that struck Rabbi Akiva’s other students (Pri Chadash OC 493)
   4. It also commemorates the Manna which began to fall on this day after the Bnei Yisroel left Egypt (Responsa Chsam Sofer YD #233 “Amnam Yadati”).

In this short essay, we will attempt to discuss each of the four reasons mentioned above.

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