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Lag B’Omer

לאַג ב’אָמער” טרעפֿט זיך אויף די 33 טאָג פון די קאַונטינג פון די אָמער, ווי פאררעכנט פון די רגע טאָג פון פסח ביז דער יום טוּב פון שאַווואָט. דאס קאָראַספּאַנדז צו די 18 טאָג פון דער העברעיש חודש פון אייר. אַ אָמער איז אַ מאָס פון גערשטן. אין ביבלישע צייטן, אויף די רגע טאָג פון פסח, עס איז געווען אַ געבאָט צו ברענגען גערשטן די גרייס פון אַ אָמער צו די המקדש אין ירושלים. דעמאלט, פופציק טעג שפּעטער, אויף שאַווואָט, עס איז געווען אַ געבאָט צו ברענגען די ערשטער קרבן פון די ווייץ שניט.
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Lag B’Omer falls on the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer, as counted from the second day of Passover until the holiday of Shavuot. This corresponds to the 18th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar. An omer is a measure of barley. In Biblical times, on the second day of Passover, it was a commandment to bring barley the size of an omer to the Temple in Jerusalem. Then, fifty days later, on Shavuot, it was a commandment to bring the first offering of the wheat harvest.
אין ישראל, לאַג ב’אָמער איז אַ שול יום טוּב. יאָונגסטערס און זייער עלטערן ליכט באַנפייערז אין עפענען ספּייסאַז אין שטעט און שטעטלעך איבער דעם לאַנד. סטודענטן ‘טאָג איז געפייערט אויף די קאַמפּאַסאַז פון די פארשיידענע אוניווערסיטעטן. אָפּשטיי ב’אָמער איז אויך אַ באַליבסטע טאָג פֿאַר חתונות
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In Israel, Lag B’Omer is a school holiday. Youngsters and their parents light bonfires in open spaces in cities and towns throughout the country. Students’ Day is celebrated on the campuses of the various universities. Lag B’Omer is also a favorite day for weddings.
The origins of the Omer count are found in the Torah, which states that it is a mitzvah to count seven complete weeks from the day after Passover night ending with the festival of Shavuot on the fiftieth day (Leviticus 23:15-16). The 49 days of the Omer correspond both to the time between physical emancipation from Egypt and the spiritual liberation of the giving of the Torah at the foot of Mount Sinai on Shavuot, as well as the time between the barley harvest and the wheat harvest in ancient Israel. There are a number of explanations for why the 33rd day is treated as a special holiday.
The Talmud states that during the time of  Rabbi Akiva 24,000 of his students died from a divine-sent plague during the counting of the Omer. The Talmud then goes on to say that this was because they did not show proper respect to one another, befitting their level; they begrudged each other the spiritual levels attained by their comrades. Jews celebrate Lag B’Omer, the 33rd day of the count, as the traditional day that this plague ended. Another possible interpretation of this legend is that the students died as part of the Roman attempt to wipe out Judaism after the Bar Kokhba revolt.
After the death of  Rabbi Akiva’s 24,000 students, he taught just five students, among them Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.
The day of Lag B’Omer is also celebrated as the yahrzeit of bar Yochai, who authored the Zohar, a wellknow book of Jewish mysticism. According to tradition, on the day of bar Yochai’s death, he revealed the deepest secrets of the Kabbalah. There is a source in the Kabbalah that Moses was reincarnated as Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai to give this mystical element of the Torah to the Jewish people.
During the Middle Ages, Lag B’Omer became a special holiday for rabbinical students and was called the “scholar’s festival.” It was customary to rejoice on this day through various kinds of merrymaking.
The most well-known custom of Lag B’Omer is the lighting of bonfires.
בר יוחאי האט גייַסטיק ליכט צו די וועלט מיט די התגלות פון דעם זוהר, באַנפייערז זענען ליט צו סימבאָליזירן די פּראַל פון זייַן תורה. ווי זייַן פּאַסינג לינקס אַזאַ אַ “ליכט” הינטער, פילע ליכט און / אָדער באַנפייערז זענען ליט.
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Some say that as bar Yochai gave spiritual light to the world with the revelation of the Zohar, bonfires are lit to symbolize the impact of his teachings. As his passing left such a “light” behind, many candles and/or bonfires are lit.
In Israel, on Lag B’Omer in most of Jerusalem and in many other towns and cities, including Meron, large bonfires are lit to commemorate the day on which the author of the Zohar and Talmudic teacher, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai passed away. (More than 200,000 people celebrated Lag B’Omer at Mount Meron in northern Israel in 2009.)
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לויט צו די מסורה, רבי שמעון האט ניט וועלן מענטשן צו זייַן ומגליקלעך אויף דעם טאָג פון זייַן טויט, אָבער גאַנץ ער געבעטן אַז מען זייַן צופרידן, זייער צופרידן.

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According to the tradition, Rabbi Shimon did not want people to be unhappy on the day of his death, but rather he asked that people be happy, very happy.
אין מעראָן, די קבורה אָרט פון רבי שמעון בר יוחאי און זייַן זון, רבי אלעזר, הונדערטער פון טויזנטער פון יידן קלייַבן צו פייַערן מיט באַנפייערז, טאָרטשיז, ליד און פיסטינג. דאס איז געווען אַ ספּעציפיש בעטן ביי רבי שמעון בר יוחאי פון זייַן סטודענטן.
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In Meron, the burial place of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his son, Rabbi Elazar, hundreds of thousands of Jews gather to celebrate with bonfires, torches, song and feasting. This was a specific request by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai of his students.
It is a custom at the Meron celebrations, that three-year-old boys are given their first haircuts (upsherin), while their parents distribute wine and sweets. Similar upsherin-celebrations are simultaneously held in Jerusalem and some other cities.
Around the bonfire, men and boys dance as they sing songs and it has become a “semi-festival” with a large ‘pilgrimage’ of hundreds of thousands of people who go to the grave in Meron.  Not just religious and ultra-orthodox participate, but also the average secular Jew seems to gravitate to Rabbi Shimon’s grave in Meron to join in the festivities and pray for help in which ever particular problems they may be facing.
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The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, encouraged Lag B’Omer parades to be held in Jewish communities around the world as a demonstration of Jewish pride. Chabad parades, bonfires and barbecues on Lag B’Omer for participants around the world.

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