Filling the World with Light - April 29, 2021

Lag BaOmer seems especially meaningful this year - while we cannot say that COVID is over as of today, we can certainly celebrate the progress that has been made.

Posted
May 1, 2021
Graphic of a light bulb

Filling the World with Light - April 29, 2021

Lag BaOmer seems especially meaningful this year - while we cannot say that COVID is over as of today, we can certainly celebrate the progress that has been made.

Posted
May 1, 2021

Editor's Note: Read the NJHSA Response to Tragic Losses in Mt. Meron, Israel during Lag BaOmer

JFS Friends,

Today, on the Jewish calendar we celebrate Lag BaOmer (the 33rd day of the Omer). The period of the Omer (the time between Passover and Shavuot) is considered a period of semi-mourning and therefore traditionally weddings don’t occur during this time, people refrain from listening to music or purchasing and wearing new garments. However, Lag BaOmer is considered a day of celebration so these mourning rituals are lifted for the day.

Interestingly, one of the things that we are celebrating on Lag BaOmer is the end of a plague. In the Talmud we learn that in the weeks between Passover and Shavuot a plague raged among the followers of the great sage Rabbi Akiva – according to the Talmud the plague ended on Lag BaOmer so it is observed as a day of celebration.

Lag BaOmer seems especially meaningful this year  - while we cannot say that COVID is over as of today, we can certainly celebrate the progress that has been made and that it seems we have made it through the worst period and as more and more people are being vaccinated many of the things that we have missed in the last year are returning to our lives.

The traditional ways to celebrate Lag BaOmer include:

  • Lighting bonfires – celebrating the great light that Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai introduced into the world who passed away on Lag BaOmer and asked his disciples to celebrate it as a day of joy
  • Eating carob – in recognition of a lifesaving miracle that Rabbi Shimon experienced. For 13 years Rabbi Shimon and his son were fugitives from the Roman regime in hiding in a cave in northern Israel. Miraculously a carob tree grew at the entrance of the cave providing them with nourishment
  • Playing with bows and arrows – in Hebrew the word for rainbow and the bow used in archery are the same. In our tradition we are taught that a bright rainbow will appear in the sky heralding the redemption. The custom of playing with the bow symbolizes our hope that we will experience this sign of the coming of the redemption.
  • A day of Joy – since all of the mourning practices are suspended on Lag BaOmer it is a popular day for celebrations such as weddings

For many, Lag BaOmer is a day celebrated in nature with picnics, bonfires, music and plenty of friends and family. Whether or not the observance of Lag BaOmer is part of your tradition – a day in nature is a wonderful way to rest and refresh. In fact there is a growing body of research that shows that spending 120 minutes a week (or more) in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing.

Lag BaOmer is a good reminder to take the time to get outside and enjoy nature with those that we care about.

Take care,

Carl Josehart's signature

Carl E. Josehart, MSW (he/him/his)

Chief Operating Officer

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