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- Historical background-What occurred on Lag BaOmer?
- It is accustomed to increase slightly in joy on Lag BaOmer. Various reasons behind this celebration have been recorded.
- The last of the 24,000 students died on Lag BaOmer.
- The five remaining students of Rebbe Akiva, including Rashbi, received Semicha on this day.
- Unknown reason.
- The Mun began to fall for the Jewish people in the dessert.
- On this day we have reached the Sefira of Hod Shebehod, which contains mystical significance.
- On this day, the 33rd day of the Omer which is the 18th of Iyar, the author of the Zohar, Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochaiy, passed away. Before his passing, Rebbe Shimon requested that the day of his death be celebrated.
- Hilulla Derashbi: The true reason behind this day of joy is based on Kabbalah, as on this day, the 33rd day of the Omer which is the 18th of Iyar, the author of the Zohar, Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochaiy, passed away, Hillula Dirashbi. Before his passing, Rebbe Shimon requested that the day of his death be celebrated, and it is thus a Mitzvah to fulfill the request of the deceased and celebrate on this day. Due to this, “One is to rejoice with all his heart and soul and make a day of feasting and joy on the 18th of Iyar, and sing praise to Hashem from the book of Tehillim, however he is not to enter into drunkenness and frivolity, Heaven forbid.”
- The Customs:
- Simcha/Joy: It is accustomed to increase in joy on Lag BaOmer. It is a Mitzvah to rejoice the joy of Rashbi. Due to this, “One is to rejoice with all his heart and soul and make a day of feasting and joy on the 18th of Iyar, and sing praise to Hashem from the book of Tehillim, however he is not to enter into drunkenness and frivolity, Heaven forbid.” This joyous celebration applies even in the Diaspora, although is much more exorbitant in Eretz Yisrael.
- Tachanun: Tachanun [and Lamnatzeiach and Keil Erech Apayim] is omitted on Lag BaOmer. It is omitted beginning from Mincha of the 17th of Iyar [Erev Lag BaOmer]. One who says Tachanun on this day arouses Divine judgment against himself. When Lag Baomer falls on Sunday, Tzidkascha Tzedek is omitted from Mincha of Shabbos.
- Fasting: One is not to fast on Lag Baomer, as is the law regarding any day in which Tachanun is omitted.
- Cease of mourning customs: The mourning customs cease to be practiced on Lag BaOmer. [One may hence listen to music, get married and recite Shehechiyanu on Lag Baomer.] Those accustomed like the Arizal do not take a haircut on Lag BaOmer, until Erev Shavuos, and so is the Chabad custom. [It is permitted to get married on Lag Baomer even according to those who follow the custom of the Arizal regarding haircuts. However, some are stringent in this matter. Practically, the Chabad custom is to permit weddings on Lag Baomer.] Those who continue the morning period after Lag BaOmer, are to resume the mourning customs beginning from the night of the 34th of the Omer, which is Motzei Lag BaOmer.
- When do the mourning customs cease-night or day? The mourning customs cease to be practiced beginning from the night of Lag BaOmer. One may hence get a haircut [unless one follows the Kabalistic custom] listen to music, get married and recite Shehechiyanu from that time.
- Feast: One is to have a festive meal in honor of Lag BaOmer.
- Increase Tehillim: One is to increase in the saying of Tehillim on Lag BaOmer.
- Carobs: It is customary to eat carobs on Lag BaOmer, in memory of the carobs eaten by Rashbi when he was in the cave for 13 years.
- Eggs: It is customary to eat hard boiled eggs on Lag BaOmer. This custom was followed by the Chabad Rabbeim and Chabad Chassidim of many generations. Others however write to specifically not eat eggs on this day in order not to resemble any matter of mourning. It is told that the Rebbe would eat hard boiled eggs that had their shells colored brown during the cooking.
- Bows and arrows: It is customary for children to play with bows and arrows on this day, in commemoration that in the times of Rashbi the rainbow was not seen.
- The Pilgrimage to Meron: The custom of those in Eretz Yisrael is to visit the Kever of the Rashbi on Lag BaOmer. By the Kever one is to rejoice with great jubilance. This is based on an old custom dating thousands of years, to visit the gravesite of a Tzaddik on the day of his passing. This custom was followed by the Arizal, who went with his wife and children to Meron and remained there for three days. He had also once gone there a previous year to perform the Upsherinish of his son in Meron. This custom is rooted in holiness. Thus, those who are able to do so, are to travel to Meron on Lag BaOmer. The community leaders are to arrange transportation from their area to Meron.
- The spiritual preparation for the visit: One must be extremely careful to act appropriately while visiting Rebbe Shimon, and not perform any frivolity matters while there, not to mention matters of sin, Heaven Forefend. This is in contrast to that which we see done today in which people have frivolous parties at the site of the Tzaddik, and certainly this causes the soul of the Tzaddik to flee and be elevated to the upper worlds. If however the visitors come properly spiritually prepared, after repentance, then certainly the Tzaddik partakes in one’s visit and hears his prayers.
- Bon fire: It is customary to light bon fires in honor of Rebbe Shimon and Lag BaOmer. This is done out of celebration, and in memory of Rebbe Shimon, as it is customary to light a candle in the memory of the deceased. Many are accustomed to throw expensive clothing and gold into the fire. However, the Poskim have spoken against such actions due to the prohibition of Baal Tashchis.
- Increasing in Penimiyus Hatorah: Lag BaOmer is an auspicious day for the study of the inner dimensions of the Torah, which was the life and spirit of Rebbe Shimon, the author of the Zohar. On this day, praised is the person who resolves to strengthen in learning Penimiyus Hatorah, with himself and with others.
- Lag BaOmer Parade: It is an old Jewish custom, which is Torah, that on Lag BaOmer, the Yom Hillula of Rashbi, time is spent with Jewish children, both boys and girls. They are taken out to the fields or to a parade, in honor of the Hilulla of Rashbi. In each area the community leaders are to arrange a parade or gathering in honor of Lag BaOmer, each area in accordance to what befits it. The parade is to take place in a public area. The children are to be spoken to of the greatness of Lag BaOmer, and the character of the Rashbi, and that which they can learn from him. They are to be told Pesukim, and give Tzedaka. The event is to be separately attended by both men and women, in the ultimate standards of Tznius.