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Lag BaOmer - celebration of learning

by Zanna Linskaia

Every Jewish holiday has historical meaning and cause, but Lag BaOmer

commemorates a few events that had happened on this day. Some think,

that Lag BaOmer is connected with persecution in time of Roman rulers,

who banned Jews from studying and teaching Torah.

Rabbi Akiva, who was famous for his wisdom across Israel, not only

refused to follow these rules, but together with his students fought against

the Roman soldiers.

Story tells us, that a student of Rabbi Akiva by name Rabbi Shimon bar

Yochai, also taught the Torah despite the Roman ban. When Romans found

out, Rabbi Shimon run away and hid in the cave on Mount Meron near

Zefat, which later became a Centre of mystical study - Kabbalah.

His students came to study in this cave and fooled the Romans by having

bows and arrows, pretending they came for hunting.

Keeping this tradition on Lag BaOmer, children in Israel like to play with

arrows and bows, while adults celebrate with picnics and bonfires.

So, Lag BaOmer is a tribute to all Jews and ancient sages who study

Jewish customs and Torah despite persecution. It is also tradition to study

the book "Pirke Avot" - "Chapters of the Fathers" at the period from

Passover to Shavuot on each Shabbat.

"Pirke Avot" includes the teachings of Rabbis, their beliefs and statements

how people should behave to each other and toward God, written from 300

b.c.e. to 200 c.e.

One of the most famous sayings belongs to Hillel, that is still relevant at

this turbulent and uncertain time:

"If I am not for myself, who will be for me?

If I am only for myself, what am I?

And if not now, when?"

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