Jewish Holidays -->
Jewish Calendar --> Lag B'omer
Best Deals found on the
We support Israel. We are your
online resource for Jewish gifts and Judaica, and
music and more. Passover Seder Plates, Matzah
Covers, and much more
Kosher Baskets - Ship anywhere in the US and Israel
worlds largest selection of Kosher and Jewish themed
Gifts. Our fabulous gourmet gifts, baskets, and
flowers are available throughout the USA, & Israel
year-round. PLUS Innovative and timely holiday
selections. Shipped FAST, FRESH, and ON-TIME.
Lag BaOmer (Hebrew: ל״ג בעומר),
also known as Lag LaOmer amongst Sephardi Jews, is a Jewish
holiday celebrated on the thirty-third day of the Counting of
the Omer, which occurs on the 18th day of the Hebrew month of
Iyar. According to the Talmud and Midrash, this day marks the
hillula (anniversary of death) of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, a
Mishnaic sage and leading disciple of Rabbi Akiva in the 2nd
century. Modern Jewish tradition links the holiday to the Bar
Kokhba Revolt against the Roman Empire (132-135 CE). In
Israel, Lag BaOmer is celebrated as a symbol for the fighting
Lag BaOmer is Hebrew for "33rd [day] in the Omer". The Hebrew
letter ל (lamed) or "L" represents "30" and ג (gimmel) or "G"
represents "3". A vowel sound is conventionally added for
Some Jews call this holiday Lag LaOmer, which means "33rd
[day] of the Omer", as opposed to Lag BaOmer, "33rd [day] in
the Omer." Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson writes in his
Likkutei Sichos that the reason why the day should be called
Lag BaOmer and not Lag LaOmer is because the Hebrew words Lag
BaOmer (ל״ג בעמר), spelled without the "vav", have the same
gematria as Moshe (משה), and Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was
mystically a spark of the soul of Moses.
The biblical mandate to count the Omer appears in Leviticus
23:15–6, which states that it is a mitzvah to count seven
complete weeks from the day after Passover night ending with
the festival of Shavuot on the fiftieth day. The 49 days of
the Omer correspond both to the time between physical
emancipation from Egypt and the spiritual liberation of the
giving of the Torah at the foot of Mount Sinai on Shavuot, as
well as the time between the barley harvest and the wheat
harvest in ancient Israel. There are a number of explanations
for why the 33rd day is treated as a special holiday.
The Talmud states that during the time of Rabbi Akiva,
24,000 of his students died from a divinely-sent plague during
the counting of the Omer. The Talmud then goes on to say that
this was because they did not show proper respect to one
another, befitting their level; they begrudged each other the
spiritual levels attained by their comrades. Jews celebrate
Lag BaOmer, the 33rd day of the count, as the traditional day
that this plague ended. This is the view recorded in the legal
code of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, 120:1–10.
After the death of Rabbi Akiva's 24,000 students, he taught
just five students, among them Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. The
latter went on to become the greatest teacher of Torah in his
generation. The day of Lag BaOmer is also celebrated as the
hillula or yahrtzeit of bar Yochai, who is purported to
have authored the Zohar, a landmark text of Jewish mysticism.
According to tradition, on the day of bar Yochai's death, he
revealed the deepest secrets of the Kabbalah. This day is seen
as a celebration of the giving of the hidden, mystical Torah
through Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, as a parallel to Shavuot,
which celebrates the giving of the revealed Torah through
During the Middle Ages, Lag BaOmer became a special holiday
for rabbinical students and was called the "scholar's
festival." It was customary to rejoice on this day through
various kinds of merrymaking.
There are those who
dispute that Lag BaOmer is Bar Yochai’s yahrzeit on
the basis that it appears that in the original texts
of Shaar HaKavanot by Hayyim Vital, Lag BaOmer is
referred to as Yom Simchato (Day of his
Happiness). The day of death of a
tzadik isn't generally considered a day of
celebration. However, on the day of his death, Rabbi
Shimon bar Yochai instructed his students to celebrate
this day as a holiday to commemorate the vast amount
of mystical teachings which he revealed at that
Lag BaOmer has another significance based on the
Kabbalistic custom of assigning a Sefirah to each day
and week of the Omer count. The first week corresponds
to Chesed, the second week to Gevurah, etc., and
similarly, the first day of each week corresponds to
Chesed, the second day to Gevurah, etc. Thus, the 33rd
day, which is the fifth day of the fifth week,
corresponds to Hod she-be-Hod (Splendor within [the
week of] Splendor). As such, Lag BaOmer represents the
level of spiritual manifestation or Hod that would
precede the more physical manifestation of the 49th
day (Malkhut she-be-Malkhut, Kingship within [the week
of] Kingship), which immediately precedes the holiday
of Shavuot.
Customs and practices
The Grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in Meron on Lag
While the Counting of the Omer is a semi-mourning
period, all restrictions of mourning are lifted on
this 33rd day of the Omer. As a result, weddings,
parties, listening to music, and haircuts are commonly
scheduled to coincide with this day among Ashkenazi
Jews. Families go on picnics and outings. Children go
out to the fields with their teachers with bows and
rubber-tipped arrows. Tachanun, the prayer for special
Divine mercy on one's behalf is not said, because when
God is showing one a "smiling face," so to speak, as
He does especially on the holidays, there is no need
to ask for special mercy.
The Sephardi minhag is to continue mourning practices
through the 33rd day of the Omer and celebrate on the
34th day of the Omer, or LaD BaOmer (ל"ד בעומר).
The most well-known custom of Lag BaOmer is the
lighting of bonfires throughout Israel and in cities
in the Diaspora. In Meron, the burial place of Rabbi
Shimon bar Yochai and his son, Rabbi Elazar, hundreds
of thousands of Jews gather throughout the night and
day to celebrate with bonfires, torches, song and
feasting. This was a specific request by Rabbi Shimon
bar Yochai of his students. Some say that as bar
Yochai gave spiritual light to the world with the
revelation of the Zohar, bonfires are lit to symbolize
the impact of his teachings. As his passing left such
a "light" behind, many candles and/or bonfires are
The Bnei Yissaschar cites another reason for the
lighting of bonfires. On the day of his death, Rabbi
Shimon Bar Yochai said, "Now it is my desire to reveal
secrets... The day will not go to its place like any
other, for this entire day stands within my domain..."
Daylight was miraculously extended until Rabbi Shimon
had completed his final teaching and died. This
symbolized that all light is subservient to spiritual
light, and particularly to the primeval light
contained within the mystical teachings of the Torah.
As such, the custom of lighting fires symbolizes this
revelation of powerful light.
At the tomb of Rabbi Shimon, the honor of lighting the
main bonfire traditionally goes to the Rebbes of the
Boyaner dynasty. This privilege was purchased by Rabbi
Avrohom Yaakov Friedman, the first Sadigura Rebbe,
from the Sephardi guardians of Meron and Safed. The
Sadigura Rebbe bequeathed this honor to his eldest
son, Rabbi Yitzchok Friedman, the first Boyaner Rebbe,
and his progeny. The first hadlakah (lighting) is
attended by hundreds of thousands of people annually;
in 2001, the crowd was estimated at 300,000.
In 1983 Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Horowitz, the second
Bostoner Rebbe, reinstated a century-old tradition
among Bostoner Hasidim to light a bonfire near the
grave of Rabbi Akiva in Tiberias on Lag BaOmer night.
The tradition had been abandoned due to murderous
attacks on participants in the isolated location.
After the bonfire, the Rebbe delivered a dvar Torah,
gave blessings, and distributed shirayim. Later that
same night, the Rebbe cut the hair of three-year-old
boys for their Upsherin.
Israeli boys collect wood for a Lag BaOmer bonfire.
The bonfires are also said to represent signal fires
that the Bar Kochva rebels lit on the mountaintops to
relay messages,[dead link] or are in remembrance
of the Bar Kochba Revolt against the Romans, who had
forbidden the kindling of fires that signalled the
start of Jewish holidays.
Another custom at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai
is the giving of chai rotel (Hebrew: ח״י רוטל). The
Hebrew letters chet and yod are the gematria
(numerical equivalent) of 18. Rotel is a liquid
measure of about 3 liters. Thus, 18 rotels equals 54
liters or about 13 gallons. It is popularly believed
that if one donates or offers 18 rotels of liquid
refreshment (grape juice, wine, soda or even water) to
those attending the celebrations at Rabbi Shimon bar
Yochai's tomb on Lag BaOmer, then the giver will be
granted miraculous salvation.
According to Taamei Minhagim, many childless couples
found success with this segula (propitious practice).
This practice was also endorsed by Rabbi Ovadia
miBartenura. Several local organizations solicit
donations of chai rotel and hand out the drinks on the
donor's behalf in Meron on Lag BaOmer. Nine months
after Lag BaOmer, the Ohel Rashbi organization even
invites couples who prayed at the tomb and had a child
to come back to Meron to celebrate the births.
First haircut for children
It is customary at the Meron celebrations, dating from
the time of Rabbi Isaac Luria, that three-year-old
boys be given their first haircuts (upsherin), while
their parents distribute wine and sweets. Similar
upsherin celebrations are simultaneously held in
Jerusalem at the grave of Shimon Hatzaddik for
Jerusalemites who cannot travel to Meron.
Bows and arrows
Historically, children across Israel used to go out
and play with bows and arrows, reflecting the
Midrashic statement that the rainbow (a sign of
punishment since the time of Noah) was not seen during
Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai's lifetime, as his merit
protected the world.
In Israel, Lag BaOmer is a holiday for children and
the various youth movements. It is also marked in the
IDF as a week of the Gadna program (youth brigades)
which were established on Lag BaOmer in 1941 and which
bear the emblem of a bow and arrow. Beginning in
2003, the Israeli government named Lag BaOmer as a day
to salute the IDF reserves.
Lag BaOmer is a popular day for weddings among
Ashkenazi Jews (Sephardi Jews hold weddings on Lad
BaOmer, the 34th day of the Omer). For those who do
not conduct celebrations between Pesach and Lag BaOmer,
the date often marks the first opportunity for a
wedding in the spring or early summer.
A Lag BaOmer parade in front of Chabad headquarters at
770 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, New York, in 1987.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel
Schneerson, encouraged Lag BaOmer parades to be held
in Jewish communities around the world as a
demonstration of Jewish unity and pride. Chabad
sponsors parades as well as rallies, bonfires and
barbecues for thousands of participants around the
Counting of the Omer