Lag B'Omer: Unity Coupled With Diversity

Thursday, 22 May, 2014 - 5:01 pm

 Last Sunday, over 500 people attended our community Lag B'Omer celebrations at Seton Park. The crowds were made up of young and old, from all different walks of life, religious levels, and backgrounds. There was ONE common denominator, however, among everyone there that day. Each person was there in a display of Jewish pride, proving that the strength of our people lies in diversity coupled with unity._70A4743.jpg Chabad-Lubavitch, the largest Jewish outreach organization in the world, hosted thousands of similar Lag B'Omer celebrations in cities across the globe. 

What does Lag B'Omer truly represent?   

Lag B'Omer marks the passing nearly two thousand years ago of the great Talmudic sage, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. He is best known as the author of the Zohar, the fundamental text of the Jewish mystical tradition, the Kabbalah. On the day of his passing, Rabbi Shimon instructed his disciples to mark the date as "the day of my joy." 

How could the day of Rabbi Shimon's passing possibly be joyous?

On the day of a person‘s passing, his or her entire lifework, good deeds and teachings ascend to higher spiritual realms. It is a time when one’s soul reconnects to higher levels of G dliness, the source of life, The Lubavitcher Rebbe of of righteous memory, explains that this is the reason Rabbi Shimon asked that this day be remembered as a joyous day; to mark the elevation of his soul to higher spiritual levels.  

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai was an example of someone who, despite his own difficult circumstances, put other people's needs in front of his own and exemplified the concept of ahavat yisrael, loving one's fellow Jew.

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai was forced to hide in a cave for 13 years due to Roman persecution. One of the first things that Rabbi Shimon did after leaving the cave was to help a community. There was a road in the city that ran through an unmarked cemetery. Consequently, the Kohanim (priests) were unable to use that road and had to travel a long distance around it. Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai came and marked the places under which were graves, enabling the Kohanim to use the road.

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai made it his life mission to go out of his way to help other people. 

Lag B'Omer was particularly meaningful this year for the Riverdale community because we derived pleasure not only from the festivities of the day, but from a double celebration: the upsherin (hair-cutting of a Jewish boy) of three-year-old Aharon Brock and an impromptu bar mitzvah of an elderly gentleman as he donned tefillin (phylacteries) for the first time. 

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True pleasure in life can only be achieved when the happiness and well-being of our fellow Jew is just as important as our own. When we can share in others' good times, and lift up and support each other through trials - that is the true meaning of a community. Sorah and I are blessed to be a part of a community that prides itself both on its diversity and unity.




























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