What’s the lesson of Lag Ba’omer?
The lesson of Lag Ba’omer, first of all, is that Hakodosh Boruch Hu is a Rachum v’Chanun and He gives us a break from the difficulties of sefira. That’s number one. Isn’t it a good idea to think about that? A break; very good!
Now, the minhagim of sefira are very good too of course. You’re denying yourself certain things. We’re like nezirim in a certain sense. Like a nazir, we don’t cut our hair. But Hashem says, “When it comes one day, Lag Ba’omer, I’m giving you a respite; I’m giving you a rest, a vacation from sefira.”
You think it’s a wrong idea to think about that?! No, it’s a very good idea! No question about it! It was no accident. Lag Ba’omer is like an island – and for some people it’s already the end of the road of sefira.
However, if you want to talk more about the lessons of Lag Ba’omer then we have to talk about Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and the tremendous miracle that happened to him. He was a man who because he spoke the truth and criticized the Romans, so he had to go into hiding because the Romans wanted to kill him.
Now, when he went into hiding it should have been a ruination for his ruchniyus. He went with his son – the poor boy couldn’t go to yeshiva. He was in the cave with his father for thirteen years! You think that’s something that’s not difficult? It’s a ruination!
But what happened there? In that cave they reached the highest pinnacle of greatness. In that cave, all by themselves without the beis hamedrash – they were in hiding; they had no rebbeim, no chavrusas. And learning without chaveirim is a problem. חרב על הבדים ונואלו – People who learn without any chavrusahs become foolish; they don’t grasp the svarahs of the Torah. And yet, these two became great. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai became very very great. And his son, Rebbe Elazar ben Rabbi Shimon, became very very great as a result. Rebbe Elazar ben Rabbi Shimon was a remarkable man who is known for the nissim that happened to him.
And all of this is a result of a gezeirah of the Romans. Now, this gezeirah was a terrible decree – to have to go into golus, into hiding, is certainly a misfortune we would say. But it turned out to be the greatest stroke of good luck that could have happened to them. It made them into the greatest that they could be.
And we learn from this that sometimes what people think is a misfortune, what they think is something to be sorry about, no – it’s a chesed Hashem. It was a chesed Hashem that the Romans made the gezeirah on them. And our golus too; it’s also a chesed Hashem that He sent us into golus. We have to know that it was a very great thing. It’s a very big chesed for us. When you look in the tochacha and study it, you’ll see that every one of the puraniyos is a very big chesed. If you study it well, you’ll see that it was a very big chesed.
And therefore a man has to know that Hakodosh Boruch Hu has planned a man’s life that the things that seem to be a misfortunes are actually for his benefit. And it’s the misfortunes that will make him the very best that he can be. That’s one of the lessons of Lag Ba’omer.
TAPE # 960 (June 1994)