Today is the 33rd day of the Omer. Since Hebrew letters are also numbers, and the Hebrew number 33 is spelled לג, today is called Lag b'Omer. It's a minor holiday, with all sorts of fascinating stories and teachings attached to it. I don't have anything new to share for Lag b'Omer this year, but here are two Lag b'Omer posts from the archives:
Plagues? Rebellions? May Day? Lag B'Omer!, 2007. "In traditional Judaism, the counting of the Omer is a kind of semi-mourning period, and Lag b'Omer marks either an end to, or a pause in, the mourning. Some say we're mourning for the students of Rabbi Akiva, who were killed by a plague because they didn't treat one another with respect; the plague ended on the 33rd day of the Omer.
Some say that what it's really about is, Rabbi Akiva supported the Bar Kokhba revolt against Roman occupation. Many of his students followed him in supporting that revolt, and were killed. The so-called "plague" which ended on Lag b'Omer is a euphemism for the ill-fated rebellion...And here's another interpretation -- one I quite like: Lag b'Omer can be understood as a kind of Jewish May Day."
The bonfire of the expansive heart, 2009. "It interests me that these are the stories we tell about this minor holiday. Today is a day for remembering how important it is that we see the grace in one another, and honor one another's learning. It's a day to remember the dangers of following messianic figures into violent rebellion. And it's a day for celebrating illumination: not just the literal illumination of burning sticks and logs, but the metaphysical and spiritual illumination embodied in the wisdom of Torah and the Jewish mystical tradition.
In honor of that tradition, I want to offer a Hasidic teaching which relates to Lag B'Omer. It's about the importance of having a good heart..."
Happy Lag b'Omer! May we all strive to see the grace in each other, and may we cultivate good hearts filled with kindness, compassion, optimism, and joy.