02 May LAG BAOMER
Lag B’omer is a
day which people
celebrate with great
simcha and joy.
What is the reason for
this great celebration?
When does it start? At
night or by day? Why
do so many people
go to Meron on Lag
Should one go to Meron for an Upsherin?
All these questions and many others will be
discussed in this issue.
Lag B’omer will always fall out on the
same day of the week as Purim.
What Happened on Lag B’omer
Many different happenings took place on
Lag B’omer. Some say it is the day Rav
Shimon Bar Yochai came out of the cave
that he and his son were in for thirteen
years.Rav Shimon Bar Yochai died on Lag
B’omer and revealed to us the Zohar. The
Rama also died on Lag B’omer and many
have the custom to go to his kever on Lag
The Simcha of Lag B’omer
On Lag B’omer we are happy. Some say
the reason is because the talmidim of
Rav Akiva who died throughout the days
following Pesach stopped dying on Lag
B’omer. Some poskim ask if so many
talmidim died why is this a reason to be
happy? The answer may be we are happy
that the talmidim which Rav Akiva acquired
afterwards did not die. The talmidim of
Rav Akiva died because they did not show
respect to each other. Some say they spoke
loshon hara about each other. Others say
although each talmid grew to higher levels
of Torah, they were treated by each other as
if they had not grown at all, because they
were still friendly from the olden days.
Others say the reason is to show honor for
Rav Shimon Bar Yochai. Some say the mon
started to fall on Lag B’omer. Others say
the reason for the joy is based on reasons
The Greatness of the Day
Lag B’omer is a segula for parnasa. Some
say it brings one to yiras shomayim. It is
a day for one to ask for his needs through
tefilla. It is a day where one can ask for
salvation in any area of life.
Meron and Lag B’omer
The custom to go to Meron on Lag B’omer
dates back to the Rishonim. One should
not go to Meron by himself. Some say
going three days before and after has some
meaning as well. Although some question
the inyun of going to Meron on Lag
B’omer, the custom is to go. It would seem
that one who does not live in Eretz Yisroel
does not have to be matriach himself to go
to Meron on Lag B’omer. One who can not
go to Meron should learn the teachings of
Rav Shimon Bar Yochai.
Today, when one goes to Meron he can
see animals being shechted on the side of
the road. One should make sure that these
animals are shechted properly and salted
etc according to halacha. This is usually not
the case, and one should be careful not to
eat from animals that were shechted in this
way. Furthermore, when going to Meron
one should be careful to avoid the areas that
people walk around dressed immodestly.
Lag B’omer and Rav Shimon Bar Yochai
Any person who is asked will tell you
that Lag B’omer is the day that hundreds
of thousands of people go to Meron to the
kever of Rav Shimon Bar Yochai. Why is
As mentioned earlier, Rav Shimon Bar
Yochai was niftar on Lag B’omer.
Normally when a tzadik dies the
yartzeit is not a day of simcha and
joy, rather one fasts. However, Rav
Shimon Bar Yochai is different. Before
he was niftar he called his students
and revealed to them the secrets of
the Torah. These secrets were written
down and are contained in the Zohar.
Therefore, we are extra happy and
rejoice on the day that these secrets
were given to us. Others say since a
miracle happened to Rav Shimon Bar
Yochai that he did not die when he was
in the cave, we celebrate his yartzeit
by being happy. The day Rav Shimon
Bar Yochai died three-thousand
halachos were introduced. This is
another reason why we are happy on
Anytime it says in the Gemorah Rav
Shimon without any other name,
it means Rav Shimon Bar Yochai.
He was the talmid of Rav Akiva
and Rav Yehoshua.
The day that he was niftar is
referred to as the “yom hilulei” of
Rav Shimon Bar Yochai.
Tachnun on Lag B’omer
Tachnun is not recited both on Lag
B’omer and on the day before at
mincha which is the thirty second
day of the omer. One recites
lam’natz’eiach yancha etc. on
Lag B’omer. However, others say that it
should not be recited; this is not the
overwhelming custom. When Lag B’omer
falls out on Sunday (as it does this year)
one does not recite tzidkascha tzedek at
mincha on Shabbos.
One may fast for tannis chalom on Lag
’omer. One should not fast for a yartzeit on
When getting married on Lag B’omer
those who have the custom to fast on their
wedding day should do so. Others are
lenient. Even one who did not fast should
still say viduy at mincha. When a fast day
precedes the day of the chuppah one should
still fast on the day of the chuppah. The
same would apply if a fast follows the day
of the chuppah.
The custom is that one is permitted to get
married on Lag B’omer. Some say that the
only time that one may get married on Lag
B’omer is by day. The Sefardim have the
custom to marry on the thirty-fourth day
of the omer. The overwhelming custom is
that one may get married the night of Lag
B’omer.However others have the custom
not to get married on Lag B’omer as well.
A wedding that started on Lag B’omer by
day may continue into the night. Dancing
and music are permitted at a wedding on
It is interesting to point out that one who
goes to a chasana during the time he is
observing the restrictions of sefira may
only dance after the chosson and kallah
come out from taking pictures, since before
they come out the dancing is not considered
being mes’ameach the chosson and kallah.
Even those who hold like the Arizal and
are noheg the issur of taking haircuts on all
days of sefira, may make a wedding on Lag
B’omer. No weddings are permitted on the
night before the thirty second day.
According to the opinion of the Mechaber
one may not take haircuts until the thirty
fourth day in the morning. The Rama holds
one may shave on Lag B’omer. Many
say this means even at night (because no
tachnun is said already from erev Lag
B’omer), while others say it means first
thing in the morning because if one waits
a little in the morning it is as if one waited
a whole day. This is known as miktzas
hayom k’kula. The custom of many seems
to be that shaving or taking a haircut is
permitted after neitz hachama.
When Lag B’omer falls out on Sunday (as
it does this year) shaving etc is permitted
on Friday because of kovod for Shabbos.
The reason why it is kovod for Shabbos is
because by the mincha before Lag B’omer
one does not say tachnun, so technically
shaving would permitted on Shabbos, but
since one can not do so, the allowance is
pushed back to Friday. One may not shave
etc. on Motzei Shabbos when Lag B’omer
falls out on Sunday. Furthermore, many say
that shaving etc. in the above situation is
not permitted on Thursday night if one has
time to do it on Friday. One who started
shaving etc. on Lag B’omer may continue
after shekia as well (even if he holds no
shaving after Lag B’omer).
According to the opinion of the Arizal
shaving is not allowed even on Lag B’omer.
Shaving is permitted on Erev Shavuos even
for those who go with the Arizal’s opinion.
Meron and Upsherin
Hundreds, if not thousands of people,
cut their children’s hair in Meron on Lag
B’omer. This was the custom of the Arizal.
Some say the reason is because the holiness
of Rav Shimon Bar Yochai should be a
zechus for the child. Others say the reason
is because hair is part of the yetzer hara and
this was taught to us by Rav Shimon bar
Yochai when he gave us the Zohar. Many
have the custom to go to Meron on Lag
B’omer and cut the child’s hair even before
the child has actually reached the age of
three. Others say only if the child was born
during sefira should one go to Meron. If
sefira then one should not go to Meron to
cut his hair. Some question the reason to go
cut hair at a kever of any tzadik.
Saying “Today is Lag B’omer”
Some poskim say one who has not yet
counted the sefira of Lag B’omer should
avoid telling someone else today is Lag
B’omer, since doing so may be considered
counting the day. Other poskim permit this
since his intention is not to count the day,
rather he is referring to the name of the day
since it is a day of simcha. This seems to be
the minhag ha’olom.
Something which one finds when visiting
Meron is the drink called “Chai Rotel.”
The Bobov Rebbe zt”l said that one who
gives out this mashka on Lag B’omer is
zocheh to great things including children.
Many people who can’t attend Meron on
Lag B’omer to hand out the mashka pay
people to hand it out for them. Chai Rotel
is an ancient Israeli measurement which
today is equivalent to 54 liters. The minhag
used to be to hand out only wine or grape
juice. However, today water and soda are
also handed out.
Some say the reason for bonfires on Lag
B’omer is because when Rav Shimon Bar
Yochai revealed the secrets of the Torah
to us, he brought light to the world, so we
make light in his honor. Others say the
reason is as a remembrance of the fire that
surrounded Rav Shimon Bar Yochai while
he was in the cave.
Some have the minhag in Meron to throw
garments in the fire on Lag B’omer. Some
say the reason is because Rav Shimon Bar
Yochai did not wear clothes when he was
in the cave, and when he wanted to learn
he would cover his body in sand. Those
who permit this say there is no bal tashchis
by throwing the garments in the fire,while
others say that throwing the garments in
the fire is indeed bal tashchis.The minhag
today seems to be that no one throws any
garments in the fire.
Night or Day
Many have the custom to make the bonfires
(and dancing) on the night of Lag B’omer.
Others say that the simcha should start by
day.However, it seems that because of Rav
Shimon Bar Yochai the minhag is to do the
bonfire and dancing etc at night all over the
world not only in Meron. However, music
not accompanied by a bonfire should not
be listened to until the next day after neitz
Bows and Arrows
On Lag B’omer the custom of many is
to shoot bows and arrows. One reason is
because Hashem shows a rainbow (keshes)
in the sky when He wants to
destroy us, but the rainbow is
the simon that he will not do
so. In the generation of a few
people a rainbow was not shown
because of their merit. One of
those people was Rav Shimon Bar
Yochai. Many tzadikim have the
custom to shoot a bow and arrow
(representing a rainbow) as well.
Some say since Lag B’omer is a
day that is fit for one’s tefillas to
be answered we shoot a bow and
arrow. The beginning words of
shema kol tefilaseinu spells keshes
The Bar Yochai Song
On Lag B’omer many people have the
minhag to sing Bar Yochai, which was
composed by the mekubel Rav Shimon
Ben Labia who died in 1584. Many people
have the custom to sing this song every
week in the zemiros of Shabbos.Some say
the reason for this is because Rav Shimon
Bar Yochai was called Shabbos.
Umar Rabbi Akiva etc. is popularly sung
on Lag B’omer since the ideas expressed
in the Mishnah coincide with the purpose
of sefira, a period of spiritual cleaning in
preparation for Shavuos. These words are
taken from the last Mishnah in Yoma.
Lag B’omer on Sunday
There is a discussion in the poskim when
Lag B’omer falls out on Sunday if the
bonfires can be made on Motzei Shabbos.
The reason for the discussion is because
they are made on Motzei Shabbos the
police etc may have to be mechalel Shabbos
to prepare for the event (this is especially
applicable in Meron where there are many
Jewish police officers). The minhag seems
to be lenient with this.