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 Holiday Central > Lag b'Omer
Lag B'Omer
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Pesach flows into Sefirat Ha'Omer (the counting of the Omer), with the counting of 49 days from the second day of Passover to the holiday of Shavuot, the time of harvest. The "Counting of the Omer" is based on the commandment in the Book of Vayikra (Leviticus 23:15-16) which states: "And from the day on which you bring the offering…you shall count off seven weeks. They must be complete." This commandment led to the practice of the Sefirat Ha'Omer, or the 49 days of the "Counting of the Omer." Lag Ba'Omer is simply shorthand for the thirty-third day of the Omer, as Hebrew letters have numeric values, the "lamed" equals 30, and the "gimmel" three, Lamed Gimmel (L"G) Ba'Omer, literally 33 (days) in the Omer.

An Omer refers to an ancient Hebrew measure of grain, amounting to about 3.6 litres. Biblical law forbade any use of the new barley crop until an Omer offering was brought to the Temple in Jerusalem.

The counting is intended to remind us of the link between Passover, which commemorates the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, and Shavu'ot, which commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. It is meant to remind us that the redemption from slavery was not complete until the Torah was received and accepted by the people of Israel.

The period of the omer counting is also a time of partial mourning, in memory of the plague that killed thousands of Rabbi Akiba's students. Some of the traditional mourning customs are applied to this period. During the "Sefira" (counting) or "Sfirat HaOmer" (the counting of the omer) weddings, parties, and dinners with dancing are not conducted. People also refrain from getting their hair cut, and some men refrain from shaving their facial hair.

The 33rd day of the Omer (the eighteenth of the Jewish month of Iyar) is a minor holiday commemorating a break in the plague. The holiday is known as Lag b'Omer. The mourning practices of the omer period are lifted on that date. The word "Lag" is not really a word; it is the number 33 in Hebrew, as if you were to call the Fourth of July "Iv July" (IV being 4 in Roman numerals).

Mazor Guide to Lag b'Omer brings you much more about the holiday, its meaning and its traditions... See the links below.

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