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Lag BaOmer

Lag BaOmer

Lag Ba'Omer: The Secret Of the Love of One For Another

Published on Wednesday May 22th, 2019

Lag Baomer, or the 33rd day of the omer, is above all an important date in the Hebrew calendar known as the Hiloula - the anniversary of death - of our blessed master of memory, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.

A funeral day curiously celebrated by the lighting of Bengal fires, and the study of the Talmudic teachings of Rabbi Shimon as well as his masterpiece, the book of light "The Zohar".

But is it really only that?

Why do we rejoice at this death when it is customary to mourn for our dead, and especially during a period known also for the tragic epidemic that struck the 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva, a period decreed by The Grand Assembly of the Second Temple as Mourning for the Nation? To answer these questions, we must return to some historical points preceding this period and thus better understand the full extent and importance of Lag Ba’Omer.

The day after the departure from Egypt, G.d commands us to begin the counting of the days of the omer, that is, from the second evening of Passover until the day of Shavuot (feast of the gift of the Torah), to prepare ourselves for the sublime gift of the Torah. This is why the Talmud and a number of decision-makers, such as the Rambam, explain to us that the period of the omer was actually a period of ‘Chol Hamoed' between Pesach and Shavuot.

Since then, these days of half-feasts have been respected by the whole of the children of Israel and established as the time of the year conducive to engagement and marriage as reported by Chlomo ha-mélékh in the Canticle of Canticles.

Many decades later, during the time of the omer, at the time of the Second Temple, the 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva were decimated by the disease because they had no love and respect for each other. A national tragedy of such magnitude that it turned this period of celebration into a period of mourning prohibiting even weddings as since the exit of Egypt it was the ultimate nuptial era of all our calendar.

This mourning was more than the death of men. The Talmud reports that 43 students who died at that time had Moshe Rabbeinu level of Torah knowledge (not his level of prophecy); Had they been able to overcome the test of hatred, jealousy and slander, as well as all of the 24,000 students in question, we would have been able to benefit from a denser oral law, which was richer in teaching. Because each of these students would have had, in turn, students, and so on ...

But instead, the trauma was so great that the Torah was forgotten by the entire people of Israel, as the Talmud states in the Yevamot treatise page 62b.

It will take years before Rabbi Akiva, after having gathered five students from a lower level than the previous ones at the end of the epidemic in the south of the country, succeeds, thanks to these five students in reestablishing a level of knowledge in Torah and in rediscovering to the chosen people the importance of the study of the latter.

As you well understood, Rabbi Akiva and his followers were from that day the pillars of Judaism and the guardians of the Oral Law.

But on what date did Rabbi Akiva choose his five new pupils and then nominate them on the same date? The 33rd day of the omer, "Lag Ba’omer"!

Thus, this day was known as marking the end of a disastrous event and the renewal of oral teaching, which is why this date symbolically represents the gift of the oral law, thanks to this great teacher and his five pupils emanate all the Talmudic teachings we do have now, as teachings received on Mount Sinai but having been forgotten, as we explained previously.

The five disciples in question were none other than Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, Rabbi Meir Baal Haness, Rabbi Yehuda Bar Ilai, Rabbi Eleazar Ben Chamoua, and Rabbi Nehemiah.

These pupils who became grandmasters will never stop wanting to repair the fault of the 24,000 deceased pupils of their master by their acts and teachings. This is why Rabbi Shimon, after speaking in a small committee against the Roman invader, will have to hide for 12 years and 12 months (12 +12 = 24, alluding to the 24,000 deceased students) in a non-Roman cave. away from Meron with his son Rabbi Eleazar, in order to escape the death sentence decreed only against Rabbi Shimon by the Roman governor of the time.

Indeed, although the words of Rabbi Shimon were addressed only to Rabbi Yehuda bar Ilai and Rabbi Yossi bar Halafta, not far from there a Guer Tochav named Rabbi Yehuda ben Guerim was a witness and brought this conversation to the most many, including Arminelos the miscreant who did not hesitate to denounce Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai to the governor in place.

Many miracles will keep Rabbi Shimon and his son alive in the cave, and as Rabbi Shimon reports in the Zohar, it is by the merit of his master and his fellow students that during these 13 years Eliyahu Hanavi himself will be revealed to him and his son in order to teach them the secrets of the Torah, and thereby, by the same, to compensate for the loss of 24,000 students. Thus, each year spent in the cave allowed the repair of the souls of 2000 deceased students during the epidemic and the sublimation of the oral teachings.

This would not have been possible without the constant study of his four other comrades at the same time and all that, of course, by the merit of Rabbi Akiva...

Rabbi Shimon learned after the age of 12 from Eliyahu Hanavi the death of Caesar, canceling all the death sentences issued during his reign, the day of Lag Baomer. However, when Rabbi Shimon and his son, showing little indulgence, found that men abandoned the Torah study to work the earth, they burned with celestial fire everything that met their eyes. Thus G.d commanded them to return another year to the cave. A total of thirteen years to allude to the importance of the love of one's another, the key to our unity and union with the One Creator.

Indeed, the Gematria (numerical value) of "Ahava" (love) as well as "Echad" (number 1 representing unity and the unique G.d) is the number 13. As a result, 12 months later day to day on the date of Lag Ba'omer, the two tzaddikim were allowed to leave the cave, thus marking the end of Rachbi' little exile and the beginning of the teaching of the secrets of the Torah, the Zohar, to the great masters of Israel.

Rabbi Shimon will not stop teaching until the day of his departure, which is, once again, the day of Lag Ba'omer...

And as reported in the Talmud and Zohar "Idra Zuta", a magnificent fire resided throughout the house of Rabbi Shimon at the moment of his death, a bright, brilliant fire that did not burn, the fire of the holiness, the fire of the Torah, the fire of the Zohar...

In fact, this date symbolizes the repair of divine rigor by divine mercy. It is actually taught in the Talmud as well as in the Kabala that every cardinal point in Israel represents a divine attribute. Thus, southern Israel is placed under the acronym of mercy, which is why Rabbi Akiva decided to teach his new students in the south of the country, and the North is under the banner of rigor, which is why first 24,000 students have had the only test to overcome their rigor to excess by loving each other ...

Rabbi Shimon, for example, lived 13 years in a cave in the north of the country studying there with his son Rabbi Eleazar, against whom no sentence had been pronounced, but the latter simply refused to deprive himself of his father's teaching based on the study with his teacher Rabbi Akiva and his comrades, decided to inflict the suffering of the cave for the elevation of the Torah...

From the love shown by the son for his father and the Torah, the cornerstone of the reparation of divine rigor was laid forever. As reported by the Ramchal, it is by the merit of the study of the Zohar that the Messianic unveiling will be made because that study is the key to the balance of the attributes.

Indeed, this teaching is the basis of the repair of our own attributes which are all of the divine origins. A study that is more commonly referred to as "Tikoun ha-middot" (attribute repair), the basis of Jewish morality.

This explains the first teaching of Rabbi Akiva to his five disciples in the south of the country (under the acronym of mercy): "You will love your neighbor as yourself, it is a fundamental rule of the Torah", otherwise man cannot understand the Torah, nor acquire it and put it into practice in a concrete way, it is the secret to understand the deep meaning of Judaism, of its Torah...

Thus by this geo spiritual calculation, Rabbi Akiva saved Judaism and allowed the unveiling of the secrets of the Torah by his pupils and more particularly by Rabbi Shimon and by his son Rabbi Eleazar...

As a result, the inhabitants of the north of the country were used to celebrate the day of Lag Ba'omer, in memory not only of Rabbi Shimon but also of Rabbi Akiva and his four other pupils, and a place of honor was emphasized as to the determination and love of the Torah of Rabbi Eleazar son of Rachbi...

Without forgetting that when a great teacher dies, leaving behind a great number of teachings and pupils, he contributes to the praise of the Lord through his abnegation in this material world to unite with the divine. Hence the term Hilula, which root is Hallel (praise). Thus, we are literally rejoicing in the marriage between G.d and the tzaddik and the teaching is the fruit of this union.

Thus, Lag Baomer comes to restore the coat of arms of this period of the omer being originally a holiday season, a date divinely decided for the reinforcement of the oral law to better help us to prepare for the gift of it at Chavouot...

A date on which we celebrate the oral teaching and its secrets. A date on which we must take upon ourselves to receive and strengthen ourselves in the oral teaching in order to sanctify the name of the Lord for us and our descendants to make of them, our students, guardians of our Judaism...

A moment in our history to celebrate an exceptional promotion of the great masters who left behind, despite the trials and adversity, myriads of disciples of which we are a part of...

A circumstantial moment where it is good to remember that we are only one people and that it is our duty to do everything to remain in overcoming the test of rigor, jealousy, slander, defamation, and intolerance...

So yes, let's dance, in memory of our ancestors, around Bengal fires symbolizing the union of one and the same people emancipating themselves from the material yoke through the teaching of the Torah, the only guarantor of our union as a nation. Fires lighting up today in the four corners of the world through our communities to remember this brilliant and shining fire, a fire that does not burn but which animates our souls.

The fire of the Zohar, the fire of the Torah.

Rav 'Haïm ISHAY - © Torah-Box

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