The Matzav Shmoooze: Confused About Lag Ba’omer

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lag-baomerDear readers,

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 bais rabbon 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 Akiva 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 twist. 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’iluinNishmas 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 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

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The Matzav Shmoooze is a regular feature on Matzav.com that allows all readers to share a thought or analysis, long or short, one sentence or several paragraphs long, on any topic, for readers to mull over and comment on. Email submissions to editor@matzav.com.

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20 COMMENTS

  1. I have a better question. How is it justified for schools to take off two and a half months in the summer? You are questioning bitul Torah? That is more of a concern to me

  2. R’ Shimon through the Zohar tought us that Kedusha is everywhere, we are able to connect with HKBH through everything and anything. It is even the most seemingly mundane acts that can connect us to Hashem.
    Are lives are a nonstop opportunity to get close to HKBH. Even when we are working, shopping and playing ball. It is not just special times like Limud Hatorah, Tefila and Mitzvos that allow us to get close to Hashem.

  3. My Rabbeim felt very strongly that it was important to demonstrate to us kids how to have fun as a torah jew. Lag BaOmer was that day.

  4. Dear Parent,
    You could not have written it better!
    If only the trip, that kids look forward to for weeks, could be made on an alternate day! This year – and next – Lag baOmer is on Sunday so many field trips will be pushed back. Hopefully lots of Torah WILL be learned today!

  5. Maybe the yeshiva sets 2-3 trips per year for the children to unwide alittle, and they happen to use lag baomer. True that the field trip won’t elevate the tanna but the (young) kids will associate very positively to the day….

  6. With sadness, Lag Bomer has turned into ‘party time’. The drugs, alcohol and ‘other’ being passed around the holy Tzion of Bar Yochai is indescribible.
    Sort of a free for all, fun day and night.

  7. It is an investment which will reap benefits in the coming days, and I disagree that it makes it harder to learn. Quite the contrary!

  8. Order of concern for items broken in our system: 1-shiduchim, 2- men not working and support. 3- collosal costs of weddings, tuition and Pesach……179- schools learning less on Lag Baomer. Give us readers a shout back after you’ve solved the first 178 concerns.

  9. When I was in yeshiva, one year some guys went to he Hanhala with the same complaint, and wanted to do away with the planned baseball games and hockey games. One of the Rabbeim heard about it and called these boys together. He then ripped into them. He said it was based in Kabbalah, and who are they to think they know better than all the Rabbonim who endorse their yeshivos going out to play? The fact is that this has been the custom for many, many years, and we don’t do away with customs easily in Judaism.

  10. Elementary and high school aged school, particularly in USA are still developing, growing and need SPACE. Thank heavens for Lag Bomer day trips, let us increase them and recess and out-of-class activities.

    My grands in Israel have many more tiyulim than the grands in New York. The israeli cheder kids visit moshavim farms, wine factories, the kinneret while studying maaser, shmittah, paah, math problems and even fishing (which simanim are kosher or not). The shorter school day ensures more outdoor play, they sneak in soccer and kadur regal (football) in the empty lots.

  11. I HAVE A VERY GOOD LINE WHICH I TELL MY WIFE EVREY TIME WHEN SHE COMES UP WITH THIS TYPE OF QUESTION
    AND HERE IS THE LINE “”WHAT MY FATHER & WHAT YOUR FATHER DID IS MUCH MORE IMPORTANT THAN ALL OF THE THINGS THAT YOU READ IN ALL PUBLICATION , THEY ,MY & TOUR FATHER WHERE JUST AS SMART @ INTELLEGENT AS ALL OF THE PUBLICATIONS. SO JUST FOLLOW THERE FOOTSTEPS & WE WONT NEED TO HAVE EVREY DAY A NEW ASIFA “”HOW TO BE MISKIN THE VELT””

    THINK WHAT I SAID & GOOD LUCK

    AND NOW MAKE SURE TO RUN TO THE PARK “” LESHEM SHMIYIM “”

  12. This kind of worrying about “bitul Torah” will destroy the joy of learning and drive children away from learning as soon as they graduate. Men that do learn part or full time do because they see the joy of learning, not to avoid “bitul Torah”.
    Hence, the one day of classes on Lag Ba’omer can cost 50 years of learning.

  13. Trips on Lag Boomer started with going to the park. Going to the park started with needing an open space to shoot a bow n’ arrow. Bow n’ arrow started with no rainbows during the life of R’ Shimon.

  14. Learning Torah is not a subject. Learning Torah for the sake of becoming a talmid chocham who gets respect for his Torah knowledge is a sin. Learning Torah is an act of kedusha and a way of connecting to HKBH. Learning Torah is not meant to be for your sake but for HKBH.

    Keep all of this in mind and you will know that there is kedusha involved in getting lots of Yiddishe kinder together and giving them a chayus in Yiddishkeit. After all is said and done, this is what learning Torah is all about.

    As the gmara says so succinctly “one who says I have only Torah and nothing else, then even Torah he does not have”.

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