The following was written from Meron where the prayers on Lag Baomer included a wish for success of the military operation in Gaza and for peace for those who live near Gaza’s border. Aside from our prayers, what are some Lag BaOmer traditions?
- We light a memorial candle. Even someone who is not present at the giant bonfire in Meron can light a memorial candle. Today is considered to be the day that Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai passed away and on the anniversary of someone’s passing it is customary to light a candle in their memory.
- We march in a parade. The Lubavitcher Rebbe initiated parades on Lag BaOmer which, today, will take place in Jewish communities around the world. Following a period of angry demonstrations, this too is a demonstration, but of a different kind. There is great strength in a parade that expresses unity and solidarity. Hundreds of thousands of children and their parents will “demonstrate” today with signs that read “love your fellow as yourself” or “I give tzedakah.”
- We learn the Torah of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai since he passed away on this day. His Torah is profound, but it is possible to learn a little of it now, as expressed in one of his famous statements: “We are dependent on affability.” Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai told his students that everything depends on the affability between us. Love and unity and affability are the foundation of everything.
May we hear lots of good news and may all our prayers be answered.
To All Your Prayers, Amen
This week the last corona hospital department in Israel closed. I heard this news as I was unpacking boxes from New York that I had packed during the first days of the pandemic.
When we went on a mission to New York I took a few books with me. Among them was a small book of Psalms with “To all your prayers, Amen” inscribed in gold letters on the cover. It was a gift from Gidi Gov, a popular Israeli singer, that he gave me when we finished a series of television broadcasts. Gidi did not know what gift to give me His wife Anat Gov of blessed memory had recommended that he give me this gift together with the inscription. I was deeply moved by the gift and this book of Psalms accompanied me for years, even when I went to New York.
I remember when a special day of prayer was announced with the outbreak of the pandemic. I took the book of Psalms with me to the Ohel (grave) of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. I had intended to pray there but it was no longer permitted to enter the area and I had to pray outside.
Several days later, we were already on the way back to Israel. There was a worldwide lockdown and everything froze. We packed up during several hectic hours but our books and other items were left behind.
Drs. Ilana and Roni Kastner from our Five Towns neighborhood volunteered to box up all of our things that remained behind and they were stored in their attic for the last three years.
Last week we were in New York and went there to retrieve our things. In the first box that I opened I found the book of Psalms. The last time I opened it, I prayed out of concern for a quick end to the mysterious pandemic that plagued the entire world. This week I opened it to Psalm 100, the famous “Mizmor LeToda” (Song for a Thanksgiving offering). We have moved on from the pandemic, but with the news of its official end it seems appropriate to stop for a moment and give thanks.
Translation by Yehoshua Siskin