Sunday, May 06, 2007

Counting the Omer Day 33 - 4 weeks, 5 days

Today is Hod she b'Hod - a day of humility in a week of humility.

Today is also Lag BaOmer, which means the 33rd day of the Omer. It is said that this is the day that the plague that struck Rabbi Akiva's students ceased. It is also said to be the day that Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the author of the Zohar, finished revealing his teachings and died. He wanted his students to rejoice, not mourn, for him.

For those who believe that the counting of the omer is a period of mourning, this is the one day they leave that custom behind. It is a day where they can have haircuts, weddings, and listen to live music--an interesting mix, but the examples that are most often given.

I don't view the omer period as a time of mourning, so Lag BaOmer is just another counting day for me. But because I do feel the spiritual tie to the sephirot, I'm glad to have learned that it also commemorates the spirit of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. He was a bit over the top for me - he believed that "one had the right to totally immerse himself in Torah and have complete faith and trust that Hashem would take care of his needs," although he did acknowledge it was difficult for most people to achieve this state.

I need to learn more about this man, but at first glance it seems not only fitting that we celebrate his life on the anniversary of his death, but that it is in the midst of a time when we use his teachings to delve deeper into our souls.

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