Counting the omer

Shalom, dear children!

Do you remember how we spoke about the counting of the Omer last year? Let’s refresh our memories. This counting can be found in Leviticus chapter 23 verse 15 and 16. There it says that we have to count seven full weeks, meaning forty-nine days. The counting of the Omer begins on the second day of Pesach, then we count forty-nine days, and it ends on the fiftieth day, which is the Shavu’ot holiday.

Why do we count the Omer? On Shavu’ot we remember that G-d gave us His Tora. The counting to fifty is like the counting down to your birthday or a big celebration. On this party the Tora is the greatest gift! Now we remember how the counting of the Omer works, we will now discuss ‘lag baomer’.

In Hebrew, the word ‘lag’ is the abbreviation for the number thirty-three.  This is, because in Hebrew, every letter also represents a number. The letter ‘l’ (lamed) represents, aside from the letter itself, also the number thirty. Likewise, the letter ‘g’ (gimmel), also represents the number three. Now we understand the number behind the word ‘lag baomer’, the meaning of the word is easier to understand. ‘Baomer’ means ‘on’ or ‘of omer’. So, ‘lag baomer’ means ‘the thirthy-third day of Omer’. But, why is this day so special?

On ‘lag baomer’ we celebrate the end of a plague. This happened during the second century, when the famous rabbi Akiva lived. This plague killed 24.000 followers of rabbi Akiva. According to Judaism, this plague was sent by G-d, because the students showed no respect for one another. However, it is also possible that rabbi Akiva’s students were killed by the Romans who ruled at the time and tried to end Judaism. The end of the dying of thousands of Tora-students is surely a reason for a great party in Israel!

This holiday is the symbol for Israel’s liberty and for her being freed in the Roman era and always. On Lag Baomer people make campfires throughout all of Israel. These fires sometimes last all night long! The fire can be seen as the lessons of light which rabbi Akiva and his students learnt in the time of Israel’s foreign rule by the Romans. The campfires are also a happy sight: the crackling fires and flying sparks. Everyone is happy: we are free and may live in Israel! During the night of Lag Baomer many children are allowed to stay up late… What a feast!

Noa Naor

Verse to Remember (John 8 verse 12): “Yeshua spoke to them again saying: “I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life”.