The Matzav Shmoooze: Confused About Lag Ba’omer


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 to add to this minhag, some schools celebrating Lag Ba’omernidcheh” this year. Since Lag Ba’omer is 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


The Matzav Shmoooze is a regular feature on 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

{ Newscenter}


  1. I hope you aren’t serious.

    Lag B’Omer outings are gufa to celebrate the simcha of the day. The OLDEST minhag regarding lag b’omer is to go on outings. On a day that our collective tzaar was reduced we are full of simcha and to show our simcha we have fun.

    What you SHOULD have asked is, why do we light bonfires
    why do we celebrate the writing of the zohar on the lag b’omer
    why Lag B’omer has all these trappings and yet nothing is mentioned in the mishna brura and the aruch hashulchan mentions in passing that some celebrate Rashby without mentioning a source

  2. We learned in daf yomi last week, Shisha devarim asu Anshei Yericho, al shlosha michu b’yadam, v’al shlosha lo michu. That tells me that there can be things that are not a 100% utopian ideal, (there were at least 3 in Yericho) yet we don’t need to make a macha’ah.

  3. If you have a prroblem with a school, bring it to them. Bring it to the Vaad Roshei Yeshivos of Torah UMesorah.

    What’s your true motiivation?


    As for the actual question, aren’t Yomim Tovim the most elevated days of the year? Yet, the Rambam tells us to spend a considerable amount of time eating etc. Shouldn’t we spend it learning?

    Chol HaMoed – do you have the same problem?

    For children, the Rambam tells us to encourage them through sweets and honor.. So too, here, we seek to ingrain a feeling of hapiness within the children for Yomim Tovim, and Reb Shimon Bar Yochai, and his LIFESTYLE!

    There’s more to be said. Much more. Think about it

  4. To Oy Vey: Just because you apparently don’t know very many answers is no reason to indict klal yisroel for your incorrect guesses.

    Fun is not necessrily a Jewish ideal. Because you have simcha, you go have fun, is not an explanation.

    The fire is based on a chazal that describes the the fire present passing of Rashbi. It is not a zecher of any pagan ritual.

    While there is some debate if R’ Shimon BAr Yochai wrote the Zohar, it is by no means conclusive that he did not. There are authoratative opinions in Rishonim that he did.

    The Ramah talks about the requiremenet of a child to observe the yahrtziet of a parent by fasting, as an inyan of Kibud Av V’Em. No where does he mention fasting as a requirement of fasting on the yartzeit of anyone. The 7 Adar issue is not addressed to everyone, but only to those who are osek in chevra kadisha, as 7 Adar is the day that HKBH was osef in the chesed shel emes of burying Moshe Rabbeinu, not because of a yahrtzeit.

    The concept of the haircut has nothing to do with avoda zara either. There are many mekoros for that as well. Shalosh shanim yihye areilim etc. Also the comncept of being mechanech a child in the mitzva of lo sakifu.

    Those are just some of the many answers to your questions. There are plenty more to.

  5. Kids deserve a break for one day in the year! If its during sefira when its “Nedicha” so what? Playing ball doesnt go against the halaches of sefira.

  6. As a matter of fact “‘Tiyul’ was seen as a way to express simcha on days like chol Hamoed and Yom tov.

    It was also costumary (especially) in Eretz Israel to go out into the forest and fields on Lag BaOmer to emmulate Rashbi during his escape into the wilderness. There was also a minhag of shooting arrows. Not because of the more Yeshivish explanation of the Rainbow, but because people used it as subterfuge to be able to approach Rashbi’s cave and learn from him without alerting the Roman authorities. They would claim they were playing with bows and arrows.

    As far as #2’s post and your questions about the Zohar and Rashbi. I refer you to the the following Seforim: Ari Nohem by Rabbi Yehuda of Modena 1500’s, and Milchamos Hashem by Rav Yichye kapach 1800’s…

  7. Dear puzzled,
    I hope you are not in anyway invloved in chinuch. Did it ever occur to you that a trip can help talmidim recharge their “batteries”? And that is in no way bitul torah. Do you believe that any activity – no matter the reason – is bitul torah? How many kids do you think will be receptive to that? You are turning Torah into a prison.
    As to your point about warmer weather – bedavka on lag baomer when it is warmer (hopefully) is the most opportune time to take the boys out! Bdavka to keep them interested.
    You need to give the kids a break.
    Lighten up, and stop trying to be “frummer” than everyone else. There are much better questions to ask.

  8. Stop complaining every time you have to shell out money for the trip. Just because you don’t want to pay for it does not mean you have to yell and scream about the bitul Torah. Trust the Mechanchim who are running the schools. If the Rebbe and the Menahel believe that this trip is good for the talmidim than it probably is. Sometimes a trip to the park can be more productive than time spent in the classroom.

  9. #2 has just passuled him/herself from aidus, according to the Chasam Sofer, Rav Moshe Feinstein, and many others, by denying the authenticity of the Zohar, and probably by his/her pure am ha’aratzus as well.

  10. i fully agree. what is the connection between lab bomer and playing baseball. where i went to cheder we lit candles for the yahrtzeit and had a seuda. what message are teaching our childeren when yeshivas end at 11 in the morning on lag bomer?

  11. #6 You are confused.

    The Chasam Sofer and R’ Yaakov Emden BOTH said the Zohar was not an original work by Rashby.

    I am sure you have studied much Torah in your life. Don’t you find it a bit strange that not a single source prior to the 13th century quotes the Zohar or Rashby’s statements within?

    The Ramban quotes kabala all the time. Why not quote the Zohar?

  12. #5

    You are a presumptuous one aren’t you?

    I never indicted anyone. I simply asked better questions than this shmoozer…

  13. I dont understand the question.

    Did you know its brought in halacha that one can minimize his learning on shabbos and yomtov and enjoy the day by having a nap or shmoozing?

    This is all part of yiddishkeit as long as it is done for the right reasons. You may as well ask how can one have a long meal on shabbos when he should have a quick bowl of cholent then get back to the beis hamedrash.

  14. To #12

    Take it easy!

    Even the Mekubalim hold that it is unlikely that Rashbi wrote the Zohar but his Talmidim’s talmidim were the ones who committed Kabbalh to writting.

    As far as the Zohar being that Kabbalah, I refer you to the above mentioned Seforim.

    Poster #2 is asking questions, there is nothing wrong with asking questions. Those who fear questions do so because they lack answers. Instead they shout: “Kofer!! Apikorus! amHaaretz!, Rasha!

    You would benefit yourself and others if you were to answer with Darkei Noam and devarim Shel Ta’am…instead of covering your own ignorance with aspersions and condemnations.

  15. To #12

    It is the same CHASAM SOFER, and Rav MOSHE FEINSTEIN who hold that Metzitza Be Peh is not a necessary part of Bris Milah., and not Meakev.

    The Chasam Sofer writes, that one need not pay heed to NISTAR (metzitza BePeh) when a potential Sakana (danger due to infection) is invoved.

    and incidentally women are invalid for ‘Eidus’ anyway.

  16. The Zohar was written by the Tanna Rav Shimon bar Yochai. This is an accepted fact by the entire Torah world. There are some apikorsim, primarily promoted in academia via the apikorus G. Scholem, that it is of recent vintage.

  17. I couldn’t agree more with the author. This whole Lag Baomer party scene is a new phenomenon. People are very bored and are always looking for entertainment. Uman, kivrey Tzadikim in Europe, Chal Hamoed concerts, wasting Rav Chaim Kaniefsky Shlita’s time to get a Bracha for your tzatzkila Bar Mitzvah boy, Pomegranite, etc… This madness has nothing to do with our holy Torah & has got to stop!