Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Nature in all her beauty and the interesting spiritual Jewish holiday of Lag B'Omer

Love Others As Yourself

When someone has refused to help you or has harmed you in the past, it is considered "revenge" to refuse to do him a favor in return. It is considered "bearing a grudge" to do the favor - while reminding him of the harm he did.

The evil inclination ("yetzer hara") works on getting a person angry in order that he should get back at the other person, if not in a major way, at least in a minor way. The evil inclination tries to tell you, "If you want to give something to him - even though he refused to help you when you were in need - at least don't give it to him with a friendly smile. Don't help him too much. Don't be too close a friend with him; it's enough that you forgive him and don't consider him your enemy. Even if you do still want to be his friend, don't show him as much love as previously."

These are the ways the evil inclination tries to entice people. Therefore the Torah states an all-encompassing principle: "Love your neighbor as yourself." "As yourself" means literally as yourself - without any difference or variation. Now we know that is an impossibility. It is the standard we are supposed to try to achieve. In Judaism we have high standards...We shoot for the stars and maybe we only make the moon but we set the bar high so you will try.

Today, think of someone you're feeling a bit negative towards for his/her failure to help you in some way. Now visualize yourself feeling a sense of identification with this person. The next time you interact with this person, view it as if you were interacting with yourself. See how this transforms your words and actions.

Love Yehuda Lave

Lag B'Omer begins Wednesday night, May 6, 2015.

  According to Jewish cosmology, the day begins with nightfall. That is why all holidays start at night after the stars can be seen. Wednesday night, May 6th, begins the holiday of Lag B'Omer. 

Lag B'Omer is the 33rd day of the Omer, the period between the Major Jewish holidays from the bible,  Pesach and Shavuot. On this day the plague which was killing Rabbi Akiva's disciples stopped. It is also the yahrzeit of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the author of the Zohar, the Kabbalah, the book of Jewish Mysticism. Tradition has it that the day of his demise was filled with a great light of endless joy through the secret wisdom which he revealed to his students in the Zohar. Rabbi Sprecher also teaches that is also the day the spiritual Mun began to fall in the desert that supported the people for 40 years with food.

In Israel there are huge bonfires across the country. From Pesach onwards the children gather fallen branches and old tires and build pyres often 20 and 30 feet high. Then as the sky grows dark, they are lit and the sky is filled with flames -- and smoke. (I have often wondered what the reaction is to the pictures from the US and Russian Spy satellites.)

The fires are symbolic both of the light of wisdom Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai brought into the world and as a "yahrzeit candle" to the memory of his passing. Haircuts and weddings take place on this date and there is much festivity including dancing, singing and music.

Why the name Lag B'Omer? Every Hebrew letter has a numerical value. An aleph = 1, a bet = 2 and so forth. The two Hebrew letters lamed (30) and gimmel (3) = 33. So Lag B'Omer means the 33rd day of the Omer. [The word "Omer" literally means "sheaf" and refers to the offering of the barley sheaf in the Temple on the second day of Pesach marking the harvesting of the barley crop. From that day until Shavuot (the anniversary of the giving of the Torah and the Festival of the Harvest) is called the period of the Counting of the Omer. It is a time for reflection upon how we view and treat our fellow Jews and what we can learn from the tragedies that have befallen us because of unfounded hatred for our fellow Jews.

Nature in all her beauty

Worth another look even if you have seen them before !!!