Chapter: 5 – Lag B’Omer

01 – The Thirty-Third Day of the Omer

It is customary to rejoice to some extent on Lag B’Omer. Even though we observe some customs of mourning during the Omer period, one is, nevertheless, permitted to sing and dance on Lag B’Omer. Furthermore, one does not recite the … Continue reading

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02 – The Hillula of R. Shimon bar Yochai (“Rashbi”)

Many people have a custom to spend Lag B’Omer on Mount Meiron, where R. Shimon bar Yochai and his son, Rabbi Elazar, are buried. There, they rejoice greatly, light bonfires, sing, and dance. Among those who participate in these celebrations … Continue reading

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03 – R. Shimon bar Yochai’s Character

Before we elaborate on the customs of the hillula, we will briefly discuss the unique character of R. Shimon bar Yochai and his mentor, Rabbi Akiva. In general, our Sages preferred to follow the “middle path,” taking into consideration the … Continue reading

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04 – Rabbi Akiva

The hillula celebration of Lag B’Omer also memorializes, in hidden form, the greatest expositor of the Oral Law (Torah SheBa’al Peh), the wondrous Tana, Rabbi Akiva, one of whose greatest disciples was R. Shimon bar Yochai. The Talmud relates that … Continue reading

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05 – Bonfires on Lag B’Omer

For hundreds of years now, the custom has been to light a large bonfire near R. Shimon bar Yochai’s gravesite on Mt. Meiron, in honor of his hillula. Chassidim have a custom to light bonfires in other places as well. … Continue reading

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06 – The Chalekah or Upsherin Custom: Cutting the Hair of Young Boys

Some have a custom to refrain from cutting their son’s hair until the age of three. When the child reaches that age, they cut his hair and leave side-locks. This way they train him to keep the mitzvah of You … Continue reading

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07 – Throwing Clothes into the Fire and Praying at the Gravesites of Tzaddikim

Many people have a custom of throwing expensive clothing into the bonfire at Meiron, explaining that they do so in honor of the Tana R. Shimon bar Yochai. There are even testimonies of great rabbis doing so. On the other … Continue reading

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