Halacha for Thursday 17 Iyar 5781 April 29 2021

Lag Ba’Omer (The 33rd Day of the Omer)

The 33rd day of the Omer is a day of festivity and rejoicing in honor of the saintly Tanna, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. There are indeed sources for this among the Poskim. We are therefore customarily more joyous than usual on this day and we do not recite Tachanun (supplication prayers). This year, 5778, Lag Ba’Omer falls out this coming Thursday, beginning from Wednesday night.

Most people commonly refer to Lag Ba’Omer as being the day that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai passed on. However, Hagaon Sho’el U’Meshiv expressed wonder about this, for if so, we should not be joyful at all as one does not rejoice about the demise of the righteous! Nevertheless, the Responsa Shem Aryeh writes that the reason why we rejoice on this day is because of what the Gemara in Masechet Shabbat (33b) writes that the evil kingdom had decreed death upon Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and a miracle occurred and hid in a cave and was saved from certain death by the hands of the wicked Romans. We must therefore celebrate joyously on the day he departed from this world in a natural way in order to give thanks for the miracle that happened to him.

Regarding the actual idea that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai passed away on Lag Ba’Omer, Maran Ha’Chida writes that it is incorrect that Rabbi Shimon passed away on this day and whoever says so is mistaken. He proves this from the teachings of Hagaon Rabbeinu Shmuel Vital who writes lengthily about the deep secrets of the Omer period and especially Lag Ba’Omer and he does not mention once that this day is the anniversary of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai’s passing. He therefore writes that the reason for the joy and celebration on this day is possibly because Rabbi Akiva began teaching his five pupils who rejuvenated the world by disseminating their Torah all over the world and this spring indeed gave us life until this very day. Similarly, Hagaon Peri Chadash writes that the primary reason for rejoicing on this day is because of the students of Rabbi Akiva who stayed alive and spread Torah to the entire world. Since from this day on these students stayed among the living, we therefore hold festivities on this day.

Some customarily visit the grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai on the day of Lag Ba’Omer and to pray and read as much Tehillim as they can there. However, every individual must think deeply before performing any action to see if it will indeed be worthy before Hashem. Thus, before one decides to visit the graves of the righteous on Lag Ba’Omer, one must evaluate whether this is indeed worthwhile in all aspects.

The Sefer Sedeh Chemed writes that on the day of Lag Ba’Omer, the secrets of the Torah were revealed by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. This was also the day that Rabbi Shimon received Semicha (ordination). It is for this reason that we rejoice on this day. He writes that the Torah scholars in Teveria in his generation wrote likewise.

Rabbeinu Chaim Vital (principle pupil of the holy Ari z”l) writes: “I have seen my master, the Ari z”l, visit the graves of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his son Rabbi Elazar on the day of Lag Ba’Omer. He and his entire family stayed there for three days. This was during the first time that he arrived from Egypt (the Ari z”l lost his father at a young age and he and his mother went to live with his uncle in Egypt). However, I do not know if at that point he was an expert in the tremendous wisdom he gleaned afterwards. Rabbi Yonatan Sagis has told me that before I had gone to learn by my master, Rabbeinu Ha’Ari z”l took his young son there along with his entire family and it was there that he shaved his son’s head in accordance with the known custom. He made there a day of joy and feasting. I have written all of this in order to show that there is a source for the aforementioned custom.”

Hagaon Harav Yonah Navon zt”l (Rebbe of Maran Ha’Chida) writes that the custom in the holy city of Jerusalem has become to hold joyous festivities when a child receives his first haircut because of the Mitzvah of not cutting the hair on the side of the head (side locks) completely and by doing so, the Mitzvah of “Do not round off the corners of your head” is fulfilled.

Ask the Rabbi


הלכה יומית מפי הראש"ל הגאון רבי יצחק יוסף שליט"א

דין ברכת שפטרנו מעונשו של זה
לחץ כאן לצפייה בשיעורים נוספים

Recent Halachot

"תנא דבי אליהו כל השונה הלכות בכל יום מובטח לו שהוא בן העולם הבא"

נדה ע"ג א'

8 Halachot Most Popular

Question: Are those who customarily donate a tenth of their monthly income to Tzedakah permitted to deduct the cost of providing for their children still living at home from the sum of this ten percent?

Answer: We have previously discussed that one must donate a certain amount of Tzedakah annually. It is a “middle” level for one to give a tenth of one’s monthly profits every month. Now let us deal with our question regarding those who donate a tenth of their monthly profits to Tze......

Read Halacha

How Much Tzedakah One Must Donate

The Rambam, Tur, and Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch write that the amount one should donate for Tzedakah is, if one can afford it, based on the necessities of the needy people. This means that if one is extremely wealthy and can provide for the needs of poor people in one’s city, one should ind......

Read Halacha

The Mitzvah of Tzedakah

The Tur (Yoreh De’ah, Chapter 247) writes: “There is a positive Torah commandment for one to donate some of one’s money to charity, based on one’s individual capabilities. In addition to the fact that whoever donates charity fulfills a positive Torah commandment, one who abst......

Read Halacha

Who is Obligated in the Mitzvah of Tzedakah?

Every member of the Jewish nation must donate Tzedakah. Even a pauper who receives Tzedakah, has no way of earning a livelihood, and only lives off of what others provide him with must give Tzedakah from what others give him. When the Sages of Israel had control over the Jewish nation, the Jewish co......

Read Halacha


Question: Is one permitted to eat fish with milk or butter?

Answer: The Mishnah in Masechet Chullin (103b) states: “Any meat is forbidden to be cooked with milk, besides for the flesh of fish and grasshoppers.” Clearly then, according to the letter of the law, the prohibition of cooking fish with milk is not included in the prohibition of cooking......

Read Halacha

Foods Cooked by a Non-Jew

Question: We currently employ non-Jewish help in our home. She helps with things around the house including cooking our food. All of the ingredients which enter the house are kosher and we supervise her while she is cooking, such that there is no Kashrut concern with the food. May we eat the food sh......

Read Halacha

Washing Dishes on Shabbat for the Room to Look Clean and Orderly

Question: May one make a bed on Shabbat so that it looks neat although one does not intend to sleep in it on Shabbat? Similarly, is it permissible to wash dishes which are no longer necessary on Shabbat because it is truly unpleasant and causes discomfort due to guests and the like? Answer: Appro......

Read Halacha

Coffee Prepared by a Non-Jew

Question: Is it permissible to drink coffee which was prepared by a non-Jew, such as the coffee served during flights aboard non-Jewish airlines, or does this constitute the prohibition of foods cooked by a non-Jew or any other prohibition? Answer: Clearly, the coffee sold in many places where n......

Read Halacha