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?"