Lag B’Omer

The yom tov of Lag B’Omer is rapidly approaching. In this article we will discuss some of the laws and customs of Lag B’Omer.

A number of reasons are given for commemorating Lag B’Omer:
1. It commemorates the students of Rav Akiva who ceased dying during this day (Shelah, Pesachim 525).
2. This day is the yahrtzeit of Rabi Shimon bar Yochai, who revealed the inner secrets of the Torah (Chayei Adam Mo’adim 131:11).
3. This is the day that Rav Akiva granted ordination to his five students — among them Rabi Shimon bar Yochai (Pri Chadash OC 493).

Haircuts:
According to the opinion of the Shulchan Aruch one may not take haircuts or get married until the thirty-fourth day of the omer in the morning. The Rama feels that one may get a haircut on Lag B’Omer. The Rama explains that one must wait for Lag B’Omer morning (after Neitz Hachama) to get a haircut. According to the Rama one would not be allowed to get a haircut on the night of Lag B’Omer. However, the Mishnah Berurah cites authorities who permit getting a haircut on the night of Lag B’Omer. Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l is cited as explaining that the second view feels that since there are bonfires and parties that take place tonight one would likewise be permitted to shave. For normative halacha, a rav should be consulted.

As noted in a previous post, according to the Arizal shaving is not allowed even on Lag B’Omer.

Counting Sefira:
On the night of Lag B’Omer (after shekiah), one who has not yet counted the sefira of Lag B’Omer should avoid telling someone else that “tonight is Lag B’Omer”, since doing so may be considered counting the omer. (See Shulchan Aruch 489:4) Harav Ben Tzion Abba Shaul zt”l rules that in this situation one may still recite the sefira with a bracha since the person is not intending to count the day, but is rather referring to the name of the day. (Ohr Litzion vol. 3 chapter 16:4)

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