The remainder of the Parsha describes various laws of offerings, the prohibition of consuming blood, and the various guidelines of sexual morality. Also included is the famous dictum, to “Love your fellow as yourself.”
Our tradition tells us that Shabbat influences the coming week, and can share a similar theme or connection with any upcoming special days. Indeed, this upcoming Thursday is Lag B’omer.
This is the 33rd day since we began counting during Pesach (the Omer), and a day when many special occurrences happened. During the life time of Rabbi Akiva (around 100 CE) one certain year, after Pesach, 24,000 of his students passed away from an epidemic. On the 33rd day of the Omer count, they ceased dying. Hence the day became somewhat celebratory. One of his chief students (who was spared from the plague) was Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who was the first person to reveal the secrets of the Kabbalah, (mystical interpretations of the Torah), and who’s teachings were collected in a book called the Zohar. He happened to pass away on the 33rd day of the Omer, and since he had completed his G-dly mission in this world, he instructed the Jewish People to always celebrate on the day of his passing.
Therefore, until today, this day is marked by great celebrations, especially at his grave in Meron, Israel. Widespread customs include making bonfires, holding outdoor events, and singing special songs composed in Rabbi Shimon’s honor. Anyone who would like to join us, we will be having a Bon- fire, and refreshments at our home on Wednesday night at 8:30.
Trivia: This was also the day the Manna began falling for the Jews in the desert.
Mark your calendars! The major holiday of Shavuot, (when we commemorate the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai) is May 24-25. Sunday morning. May 24th we will be having a special Service where we will read the Ten Commandments from the Torah scroll, followed by a dairy Kiddush Lunch and ice cream buffet! Don’t let this important holiday pass you by! We need a minyan to read from the Torah, so if you are able to come, please do.
Wishing you and your family a shabbat shalom,
Rabbi Akiva Hall