Lag BaOmer

June 20, 2006

The thirty-third Day of Sefirat HaOmer ["Lag" is the pronunciation of the two Hebrew letters whose "gematria," the sum of the numerical equivalents (for example, num eq. of Aleph is 1, num. Eq. of Bet is 2, etc.) of each, similar to the game of Scrabble, equals "33"]. On this Day, according to Tradition, the students of Rabbi Akiva, 24000 of whom had perished in a terrible plague, stopped dying. The Day is also the “yahrtzeit” [Yiddish for "death anniversary"] of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. The day is a break in the partial mourning of the Sefira Period. Students go on outings with their teachers, families have picnics, and tens of thousands of Jews light bonfires, dance and sing at Meron, in the Galil in Israel, the burial place of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who wrote the Zohar, and his son.