Readers’ Matzav: Confused About Lag Baomer


leil-lag-baomer-in-lakewoodDear Editor,

There is something about Lag Ba’omer that I just cannot understand. I understand that we celebrate this special day for a number of reasons. The talmidim of Rebbi Akiva stopped dying on this day. Rav Shimom bar Yochai revealed to us secrets of the Torah. Three thousand halachos were introduced on the day Rav Shimon bar Yochai died.

There is a true cause for celebration. This inyan is brought in halacha and goes back many generations.

There is also a minhag to shoot bows and arrows. This minhag is brought in seforim and has been performed by many tzaddikim for many years. Various reasons are given for this minhag.

However, there is one minhag I cannot understand and have not been able to find a reliable source.

Many schools around the country celebrate Lag Ba’omer. This is quite understandable. The seforim say it is a day of simcha. But how to we justify minimizing limudei kodesh in honor of Rav Shimon bar Yochai? How do schools take away precious time of tinokos shel beis ribbon learning the heilegeh Torah for a Lag Ba’omer trip? Is this serving as an aliyah to the heilegeh neshama of this holy Tanah?

I was thinking that maybe, to be melamed zechus, there is some explanation. Maybe since the talmidim of Rebbi Akive died because they did not act properly to each other, we take the boys out to the park with their rabbeim, where the rabbeim teach the children how to act towards each other, even when competing in a sports game. Maybe.

But now this minhag has been developing new twists! There are yeshiva ketanas that have turned Lag Ba’omer into trip days. School turns into camp! They take off from limudei kodesh and take their boys to amusement parks or bowling and the like. L’ilui Nishmas haTanah Rav Shimon bar Yochai! Entire schools being mevatel Torah on such a grand scale in honor of this special day! Is this truly in the spirit of Lag Ba’omer? It’s hard do believe and it is difficult to understand. A kumzitz in a park, maybe. But has it gotten out of hand? What are we teaching the children?

And to add to this minhag, some schools celebrating Lag Ba’omernidcheh” this year. Since Lag Ba’omer was on Sunday when these getaways are full, they are “celebrating” Lag Ba’omer today, Monday, during actual Sefirah.  Any p’shat?

And besides all this, we all know that as the weather gets warmer, the harder it becomes for children to concentrate on their learning. It becomes a challenge to motivate a boy to learn in the summer. But kicking it off with a trip so early in the season does not help things at all. It helps set the summer mode in and makes it even more difficult for our precious tinokos shel beis rabbon to continue their holy work.

Anybody have an explanation?

A Puzzled Parent


  1. The explanation is pretty simple.

    The mitzvah of teaching your children (chinuch) includes teaching them emotionally as well as intellectually. The joy of being a frum Jew needs to be taught just like halachos and sugyas.

    What good is it to teach a child all the laws if he or she grows up feeling there is no joy in the religion? Proof of this is the vast numbers who flee frumkeit as soon as they are old enough (or younger).

    Children need to have fun when they are young. It is a natural part of the life cycle. If they only find it outside their religious lives, you are training them to see being a frum Jew as tedious and being frei as getting enjoyment out of life.

  2. The point is to make known to everyone including ALL the kids what R’ Shimon did for this world, R’ Shimon’s goal was Torah for EVERYONE, All would say the best way to accomplish this is with the outings etc. Kol Tuv

  3. But how to we justify minimizing limudei kodesh in honor of Rav Shimon bar Yochai? How do schools take away precious time of tinokos shel beis ribbon learning the heilegeh Torah for a Lag Ba’omer trip?

    Why aren’t you complaining about the same thing regarding Chol Hamoed? The principle is even more applicable on Chol Hamoed!

    they are “celebrating” Lag Ba’omer today, Monday, during actual Sefirah. Any p’shat?

    Some people hold the Sefira the FIRST 33 days, so today — day 34 — is no longer aveilus.

  4. Dear A Puzzled Parent,

    Don’t be so puzzled.

    Kids need outlets. Taking them on a trip is a very healthy thing.

    You ask – what are we teaching the children?

    We are teaching them that although you must always learn Torah – there are healthy normal trips that a Torahdik person may go on.

    I think that there’s no greater lessonfor a young child than watching his Rebbi pitch a softball game on a class Lag B’omer trip.

    I certainly don’t remember everything that my Rebbeim taught me. But, I do remember my dedicated Rebbeim – ehrliche Bnei Torah – pitching to us on our Lag B’omer trips.

    Those memories are priceless!!

  5. This writer seems to suggest that the best way to raise a child is to lock him up in a room with a gemara. I think he needs a few sessions with a well trained child psychologist who will explain to him how foolish and neurotic he is. Rachmanus on his own children.

  6. As far as I know most Yeshivas will schedule their outings during Limudei Chol time.
    To take children on Sunday when most of the the parks are full of people wouldn’t make sense either.

  7. When I was a child in Israel – some 30 years ago – it was already a trip day. The simple reason is: the kids are tiered and hyper from the late and crazy night, and arn’t cooperative with a regular learning day (especially with the Chabad parades outside) – so there isn’t a better day to wast on a trip, rather then trying to learn and wast a regular day on a trip – simple!

  8. here is what i found on
    its part of an article – I hope this explains it to you.

    Lag B’Omer is the yahrzeit of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, one of the greatest Sages of the Talmud and the author of the Zohar, the fundamental text of the Kabbalah. Customarily, we commemorate Lag B’Omer by outings, taking our children out to the forests and the fields and celebrating.

    This raises an obvious question: Is it right to commemorate the passing of a great scholar by closing our books and going out to the fields? Of Rabbi Shimon, it was said Toraso Umanaso, Torah study was his occupation; his entire life centered around these teachings. Why then do we recall him by taking a vacation from school?

    The point is that Lag B’Omer is a vacation from school, but not a vacation from the Torah. On the contrary, the intent is to show how Rabbi Shimon’s teachings give us the insight to extend the Torah beyond the confines of the school building. Forests and fields are not usually associated with the Jewish life. And yet, Rabbi Shimon provides us with the mindset to extend the Torah’s wisdom into such settings.

    This is dependent on Rabbi Shimon’s mystic teachings. The Zohar which he authored gives us the conceptual underpinnings to perceive G-dliness in every environment, and to understand how every element of our existence reflects spiritual truth.

  9. Old One,
    Your message is correct, however your method is wrong.

    You are correct, children must be taught that there is “joy in religion”. The proper way to do this is by showing how religion itself can be enjoyed. Learning itself could and should be enjoyable if taught properly.

    What kind of message are we teaching our children when we show them that in order to enjoy being a Jew, we must take off from Torah and join in the American forms of enjoyment.

    If we want our precious children to enjoy being Jewish, and to stay Jewish without “fleeing frumkeit as soon as they are old enough”, we must show them how truly enjoyable Torah and Mitzvos can be. We are an “Am Medushnei Oneg”, a Nation which is full of pleasure. This pleasure is not amusement parks, bowling etc.., it is the the Torah and Mitvos; the religion itself.

    I agree there is nothing wrong with going out with a Rebbee or teacher to the park for a game. This is healthy for our children. It helps a child to see how their roll model performs out of the classroom. It helps a Rebbee/teacher teach a child how to interact with their friends. This type of outing has been taking place for years.

    But hasn’t it gotten out of hand?

  10. Is Torah only in the classroom? Isn’t it also outdoors, in how we behave, interact, respond to the world? Is there something wrong with taking our Torah lessons and practicing them on trips?

  11. It’s reely a shanda. But its only one day of the year. Much worse is so many days in the summer when Torah learning almost stops completely for the kids. The Yeshivos (yeshiva katana) end in June and don’t start until September after labor day, and then the yomim noyraim start. Yes some kids go to camp and do a little learning there, but still not very much, and all those days in between is almost nothing! The yeshivos need to cordinate with the camps to end only a day or two before, and begin right after camp ends, so learning can go on properly. And I wont even menshion 3 days before paysach and 2 days before sukkos that go mostly wasted.

  12. when a boy goes on a trip (rather on lag ba’omer or for accomplishing alot of learning with his class) it not only refreshes them & gives them chizzuk to continue learning & looking forward to another trip, but it teaches them that M’toich she’ho lo lishma, ba lishma (when a person starts to learn bec. hes in school or for a contest… then in the future he learns without getting a prize or going on a trip…)

  13. No reason that the trip should coincide with LagBaomer. In my school we do not make the trip bo bayom. Wer sing and dance and are happy with the Torah that was revealed on this day of the aliyah of RASHBI. Makes sense, no?
    Trip day-in 2 weeks.
    BTW Noone ever went off the derech because he had or didn’t have a trip on Lag Baomer. Article with well taken points Thank you MAtzav.

  14. My understanding for the outings is because in the days of R. Shimon Bar Yochai, when the it was dangerous to learn Torah due to the Roman decrees, the Rabbonim would learn Torah in caves, and the children would “play” nearby, shooting arrows. If Romans would come near, they would shoot arrows in a predetermined code to alert the Rabbonim of the impending danger, which saved them. It is for this reason that today, on Lag Baomer, the children again go out to play in fields and shoot bows and arrows.

  15. To older one:

    I disagree with your point that a child would experience the joy of yiddishkeit by learning all day. And I extend it to adults.

    This might sound controversial, but Shalosh Regolim in the time of the Bais Hamikdosh was celebrated. That was the meaning of Chag.

    Look at Shir Hashirim. Tambourines, song, dancing I’m sure.

    Yiddishkeit is a way of life, not a replacement for life.

    It is unhealthy for children to sit all the time without physical outlets. If they experience joy and they relate that joy to yiddishkeit, they will grow up with a deeper kesher to yiddishkeit.

    Confusing this fun with assimilated American fun is a whole different subject. Of course the yeshiva has to make decent choices. But the children might not look forward to it if every year they were taken to state parks to shoot bows and arrows, even if the DEC would allow it.

    We live in this generation. You probably use a computer (!), have a cell phone and so on. That does not make you assimilated. A longing for and identification with the Gentile way of life makes one assimilated.

  16. it seems that every complaint about anything we do as jews is about not learning enough.

    we have rabanim for a reason and one is required to listen tot heir rov and to do what is right and not what some bloggers think what we should or shoudl not do.

    keep your chumras to yourself because chumras is a nice thing for oneself but not to impose on others.

    Like Rabbi Kaminetsky always says-vildkeit or yiddishkeit? you choose.

  17. i heard it written in a sefer (maybe sefer hachinuch) that its a minhag chutz la’oretz to take the children on a trip on lag baomer!

  18. Does anybody know what anonymous @12:46 is talking about? “chumras”, “vildkeit or yiddishkeit”.

    What do “chumras” have to do with this hashkafa post? Which Rabanim pakened that a school should take off of limudei kodesh for these trips.

    Does this comment have anything to do with this post?

    Does he mean to say that Rabbi Kaminetsky shlita was asked about this shailo? If so, what does this have to do with “vildkeit or yiddishkeit”?

    Is this comment meant for this post?