What is the Omer count? What's so special about Lag Ba'omer?
What's the connection between Lag Ba'omer and Rabbi Shimon Bar
Yochay? And why the Lag Ba'omer fires?
The wisdom of Kabbalah endows man with a unique
research tool. It enables us to understand each and every phenomenon
and each and every thought. That wisdom is based on the
understanding that life has a purpose, a goal. During the course of
our lives we're meant to reach that goal and be able to measure our
progress each step of the way. The holidays we celebrate mark
special degrees anyone who walks the path to complete his
This brings us to the question - what is man's
purpose in life?
The Creator created souls and dressed them in
bodies. Within each of us there is a soul, which belongs to the
upper world and aspires to return to the place from which it came.
It must return to its root in the span of one life cycle, so that
man can live simultaneously in both worlds, the one we know, and the
one we all came from. Only in this state can one fulfill one's
desire for happiness, tranquility, confidence and a complete
understanding of the world around us.
Each of us lives many lives, during which the
soul experiences the desire to rise above the difficulties and
return to its root. But along with that it senses the objection of
the body and the environmental conditions to its process of
development. That objection is meant to develop in the soul the
ability to correct itself and rise to its root by overcoming the
Man's goal is to reach the root of his soul
while still in the world, in his body of flesh.
The path from this world to the end, the point of
utter bliss, divides into two parts: during the first, we mend the
upper part, called the "Head of the Soul". During the second, we
mend the lower part, called the "Body of the Soul".
A soul is comprised of ten parts called Sephirot.
Their names are: Keter, Chochmah, Binah, Chesed, Gvurah, Tifferet,
Netzah, Hod, Yesod and Malchut. The first three belong to the head
of the soul and were corrected by earlier kabbalists. The seven
remaining Sephirot must be corrected during the course of our lives,
so that when their correction is completed, a man reaches
Within each of the seven Sephirot of the body
there are seven inner Sephirot. For instance, within Chesed, there
are Chesed within Chesed, Gvurah within Chesed, Tifferet within
Chesed … … Malchut within Chesed. Thus all and all there are fourty
nine Sephirot that need mending during the course of the climb up
the spiritual ladder.
Passover symbolizes man's exodus to the spiritual
world, where he discovers the structure of the soul. Then he begins
his climb, rung by rung, through the correction of the Sephirot,
until the fiftieth day, when he celebrates the holiday called
Shavuot (Pentecost). Pentecost, also called the festival of the
receiving of the Torah, testifies to the end of the correction
needed from man that he may receive the great light called Torah.
The Omer count, between Passover and
Pentecost, includes forty-nine days, so that each day a man corrects
one of the Sephirot of the body. If we open the prayer book in the
chapter that describes the Omer count, we'll find that to each day
is dedicated to a singular Sephirah.
On the first day we mend Chesed within Chesed, on
the second Gvurah within Chesed and so on until in the last day we
mend Malchut within Malchut.
The first thirty-three Sephirot from Chesed
within Chesed through Yesod within Yesod, are the upper Sephirot of
the body in the correction plan. That is the program that activates
the whole process. The remaining sixteen have to do with actual
performance of commandments. That is why he who's corrected the
first thirty-three Sephirot is guaranteed to succeed in the
correction of the rest and the completion of the process. After
thirty-three days, he knows for certain that on the fiftieth day his
soul will be filled with light called the receiving of the Torah.
The number thirty-three, when presented using
the Hebrew letters Lamed and Gimel, forms the combination Lag. That
is why we celebrate Lag Ba'omer on the thirty-third day of the
count, to celebrate the certainty that we shall reach our goal on
earth and achieve the full correction of our soul.
Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochay (RASHBY), who
wrote the holy book of Zohar, formulated a unique method for the
correction of the soul. It is unique because RASHBY himself went
through each degree in the spiritual world and reformed it so that
anyone could follow. Thanks to him we too can climb up that path, by
following the orders written in the holy book of Zohar.
Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochay justify this world on the
thirty-third day of the Omer count, since on that day he has
completed the correction plan for all the souls to follow. All we
have to do is follow the instructions and thus carry out his plan.
Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochay prepared for us the path
to perfection and eternity. That is why we celebrate on Lag Ba'omer
the completion of his exalted mission for all souls to come.
The lighting of the fire symbolizes the great
light that is promised to one who has corrected his soul to the
degree of Lag Ba'omer, which he is destined to receive on Pentecost.
One who has corrected his soul to the degree
of Lag Ba'omer, is guaranteed to attain the full correction of his
soul. For that reason he celebrates his state with gratitude to
RASHBY who's paved the way for him and granted him, through the holy
book of Zohar, the method to correct his soul.