"Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day who you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." - Joshua 24:14-15 (NIV)
While we are living in Israel, we often participate in many of the community events, but this year, we will not be participating in the school's celebration of Lag B'omer.
What is Lag B'omer?
Lag B'omer is the 33rd day in the counting of the Omer. The counting of the Omer is the biblical mandate given in Leviticus 23:15-16, which is the 50 day count to the Feast of Weeks, or Shavuot in Hebrew. The Feast of Weeks is also called Pentecost, meaning fifty, by Christians in the New Covenant. According to Rabbinical tradition, this 50 day count from Passover to
Shavuot also corresponds to the number of days it took the Israelites to
reach Mount Sinai to receive the Torah after they departed from Egypt.
The word "Lag" comes from the Hebrew letters for the number 33. The Hebrew letter ל or lamed (corresponds the letter "L") which represents "30" and ג or gimel (corresponds to the letter "G") which represents "3". According to tradition, one of Rabbi Akiva's students, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the purported author of the Zohar, a book of Jewish mysticism, died on Lag B'omer after he revealed
the deepest secrets of the Kabbalah. This day is seen as a celebration
of the giving of the hidden, mystical Torah through Rabbi Shimon Bar
Yochai, as a parallel to Shavuot, which, according to Rabbinical tradition, celebrates the giving of the true Torah through Moses.
The lighting of bonfires on Lag B'omer are seen as a tribute to Rabbi Shimon Bar
Yochai, representing the "light" he gave to the world through his revelations in the Zohar. I say, the lighting of fires on Lag B'omer is akin to worship of an idol and has no place among believers in the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob.
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