web analytics
August 22, 2014 / 26 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Lag Baomer’

Lag BaOmer: The Fire Burns

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

The circle of men whirls around the fire, hand in hand, hand catching hand, drawing in newcomers into the ring that races around and around in the growing darkness. A melody thumps through the speakers teetering unevenly with the bass, the sound is both old and new, a mix of the past and the present, like the participants in the dance, the traditional garments mixing with jeans and t-shirts until it is all a blur.

It is Lag BaOmer, an obscure holiday to most, even to those who come to the fires. The remnants of the Jewish Revolt against the might of the Roman Empire are remembered as days of deprivation in memory of the thousands of students dying in the war, until the thirty-third day of the Biblical Omer, part of the way between Passover and Shavuot, the day when Jerusalem was liberated.

Deprived of music for weeks, it rolls back in waves through speakers, from horns blown by children and a makeshift drum echoing an ancient celebration when men danced around fires and shot arrows into the air. The fires and bows have remained a part of Lag BaOmer, even when hardly anyone remembers the true reason for them.

The new Yom Yerushalayim, the day of the liberation of the city, is coming up soon,  but the old Yom Yerushalaim, came thousands of years ago and ten days before it on the calendar. Time is a wheel, and, like a circle, everything comes around again. Hands pulling on hands, years pulling on years, on and on like the orbits of planets and stars. The Divine Hand of God pulls us along, and we pull each other in the dance of life.

The circle speeds up, men racing faster and faster, the children left behind, as the flames sputter and night falls. The rebellion, although bravely fought, failed, and Jerusalem fell again, and then Betar. The joy of the celebration turned to ashes, but, even in the shadow of the empire, their spirit endured. The stories were changed a little, the rebellion encoded into a story of Rabbi Akiva, the pivotal scholarly figure in the war, and of his students who perished because they had not been able to get along with one another. The failure of unity had been the underlying reason for the Roman conquest and the Jewish defeats. It is the ancient lesson still unlearned that the circle of the dance teaches us.

The Bar Kochba revolt was not the last time that Jews fought to liberate their land. It was not the last time that the gates of Jerusalem were thrown open to a Jewish army. The liberation of Jerusalem in 1967 was the fulfillment of a struggle that had been going on for nearly two thousand years, as empires and caliphates had claimed the land, planted their spears and rifles over its barren hills, and enforced their laws upon it. And if Jerusalem falls again, if Masada falls again, if we fall into the fire, then we will rise out of it again, less in number, less in memory, but still a circle.

Fresh from battle, the soldiers danced around the flames. They had defeated the legions of Rome, without any special training and with poor equipment, they had beaten the greatest army in the world. They had survived the flames and in an explosion of joy, they raced around the celebratory fires, tasting the momentary immortality of battle. Their names are forgotten, lost to memory. Lag BaOmer is associated now with two of Rome’s scholarly opponents, Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who passed on the teachings and traditions that kept the circle intact even in the fire.

Wars are won and lost all the time. No victory, however significant, endures forever. There is no immortality in the victories of the flesh, only in the triumphs of the spirit. For all our losses, this circle is a victory, an ancient celebration of a spiritual triumph kept secret in the face of the enemy. The circle of clasped hands reminds us that against the dead hand of history, we have a Living Hand that guides us even in our darkest hours, in the smoke and flame, in the ash and fire.

Lag B’Omer Trivia

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

The Palmach division of the Haganah was established on Lag B’Omer 1941.

The Gadna program (youth brigade) was also established on Lag B’Omer 1941, and their symbol is the bow and arrow.

Ben-Gurion gave the order to officially create the IDF on Lag B’Omer 1948 (assuming he issued it after sunset on May 26, 1948).

Lag B’Omer is the official day for saluting IDF reserve soldiers.

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson ZT”L 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.

Hundreds of thousands of Jews visit the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, in Meron on Lag B’Omer.

Lag B’Omer has joined Rosh Hashana to become the only other 2 day holiday in Israel. In order to avoid possible desecration of Shabbat this year (2013), the Rabbanut asked that schools be closed on Sunday and Monday, and that bonfires be delayed until Sunday afternoon. Most people ignore the request to delay the bonfires.

Jerusalem pollution levels rise 6 times normal on Lag B’Omer due to the bonfires.

3600 tons of wood are burned.

Construction sites lose on average, NIS 15,000 worth of material, as children raid the sites for wood.

500 firetrucks and 300 firefighters are on duty in Israel.

Feel free to add your Lag B’Omer trivia in the comments.

Firefighters Battling Fires All Over Israel on Lag Baomer

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

The hazy, hot weather caused an outbreak of dozens of fires across Israel Saturday night, and several fires are still raging Sunday morning, the largest of them in the industrial area Afek in Rosh Ha’ayin, 16 miles east of Tel Aviv.

The fire in Rosh Ha’ayin broke out in a multi-story industrial building on Saturday, at about 5 PM, and is still raging. Parts of the building have collapsed, and firefighters fear the collapse of the entire structure. More than 20 firefighter teams from different towns in central Israel are on the site, but are yet to gain control over the blaze.

During the night firefighter teams put out a fire the started with a Lag Baomer bonfire in Moshav Oriya, near Beit Shemesh.

Lag Baomer bonfires the got out of control were the culprit in numerous local fires that raged across Israel overnight. An exceptionally hot weather, coupled with unexpectedly strong winds, turned many festive outings into anxious dramas.

After a fire that broke out near the Buchman neighborhood of Modi’in, police closed down Begin street, on the south side of the city. The reason, according to police – a Lag Baomer bonfire.

A fire in Ben Shemen Forest on Saturday injured a couple in their 50s, who were taken to Tel Hashomer Hospital. An initial police investigation found the fire began as a harmless barbecue.

“They located the barbecue in a grassy area, ignoring safety guidelines,” a JNF inspector reported. “Soon sparks flew into the grass and the fire began to spread.”

“The husband tried to put out the fire by stepping on it with his feet, but the flames quickly took clothes and he sustained light to medium burns. His wife removed some of her clothes in an attempt to extinguish the flames on her husband, and suffered from smoke inhalation. A fire watchman alerted JNF and Firefighter forces,” the inspector added.

Two fires were reported in the Ministry of Agriculture’s Vulcan Institute in Rishon Letzion. Several fires were ignited in the Kinneret area and on the Golan heights. Airplanes were used to fight the fires there.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/firefighters-battling-fires-all-over-israel-on-lag-baomer/2013/04/28/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: