Thinking Lag Ba’Omer today

May 22, 2011

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Lag B’Omer is a festival full of contradictions. A short break in the seven-week austerities of the passage between Pesach and Shavuot: Some say we are marking the passing of a great mystic, others that we celebrate the end of a lethal epidemic, and others yet that we honor a heroic yet ultimately failed rebellion against our occupiers.

At the same time as the celebrations at Mount Meron were underway – once again becoming the largest demonstration Israel has known this year – many contradictory signs were emerging from the speech of Barack Obama and the reactions it drew.

Lag B’Omer questions dance between the lines of political commentators: Are we approaching days in which we shall need to stand firm in rebellion against a powerful empire? Or by contrast, are we now at that moment in history where we shall note in retrospect: “Here the killing ended”? Are we at the moment where great wisdom leaves the world, or is about to be revealed?

One unquestioned tradition of Lag B’Omer is that it is the time for weddings and blessings of fertility. May we hope that these light-giving traditions hold sway in the coming days.

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