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 Tachanun supplication on that day, nor does one recite it in the Minchah service of the previous day. In addition, one is not allowed to fast on Lag B’Omer. 1, but a bridegroom fasts (M.A. 573:1). Some say that a bridegroom does not fast (Mishmeret Shalom 38). The Levush, Pri Megadim, and others write that one does not recite Tachanun during Minchah of the previous day. The author of Chok Ya’akov, however, rules that one should recite it. See K.H.C. 493:28. It seems that the [prevalent] custom is to omit it. ]
The reason we rejoice on Lag B’Omer is that the Rishonim had a tradition that the students of Rabbi Akiva stopped dying on the thirty-third day of the Omer (Meiri, Yevamot 62b; S.A. 493:2). Some explain that his students actually continued dying afterwards, but on the day of Lag B’Omer, R. Akiva began teaching new students – including Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai – who did not die in the plague, and through them Torah spread among the Jewish people. This is why we rejoice on Lag B’Omer (Pri Chadash 493:2). Others claim that on the thirty-third of the Omer R. Akiva gave rabbinic ordination to his five [new] students – R. Meir, R. Yehudah, R. Yosi. R. Shimon bar Yochai, and R. Elazar ben Shamu’a – who continued the tradition of Torah (K.H.C. 493:26, based on Sha’ar HaKavanot). Another reason for rejoicing on Lag B’Omer is that it is the anniversary of the death (hillula) of the holy Tana, R. Shimon bar Yochai, who was R. Akiva’s disciple.
We will [first] summarize briefly the customs of mourning and rejoicing that pertain to Lag B’Omer. According to all customs, one may sing, dance, and play musical instruments from the beginning until the end of Lag B’Omer. Regarding weddings and haircuts [the matter depends on one’s custom]. Ashkenazim and some Sefardic communities allow weddings and haircuts during the day of Lag B’Omer, and some allow them even during the night. Most Sefardim, however, refrain from weddings and haircuts on Lag B’Omer (see above 3:4-5). Nonetheless, when Lag B’Omer falls out on Friday, one may take a haircut in honor of Shabbat, even according to Sefardic custom (S.A. 493:2). Those who follow the customs of the Ari z”l do not cut their hair on Lag B’Omer [even in this situation], because they refrain from haircuts throughout the Omer period, until the day before Shavu’ot (K.H.C. 493:13).
- One may not fast [on Lag B’Omer ↩