Talk:Lag BaOmer

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I have made a minor semantic correction to this article, substituting the following line: "The day is also the Yahrzeit, the anniversary of the death, of the Tanna Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai [1] who is believed by some to have authored the Zohar, the landmark text of Jewish mysticism." The line as it was originally defined bar Yohai as the author of the Zohar, when the exact authorship of said text has been a matter of debate for centuries. See Zohar for more information. --Brasswatchman 20:40, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

it has been speculated by some that lag b'omer shows very strong signs of being of pre-Jewish pagan origin. arguments about this have been made of other holidays and practices of many faiths, Judaism included.

Being that Lag Ba'Omer has the latest origins of any Jewish holiday (with the exception of those instituted by the modern state of Israel), this seems to be a silly claim to make regarding this holiday. Elyachba

Although I'm unaware of any reason (other than pure speculation) that the date of this holiday is adopted from non-Jewish religions, at the same time I have doubts regarding certain customs of the "holy" day possibly having been adopted from the customs of other religions. Reason's for doubt:

1) the supposed Talmudic reference to Lag b'Omer mentions nothing of the date of this holiday (its name), nor of the customs connected to it. It merely mentions the account of Ribi Aqiva's students dieing.

2) the holiday isn't mentioned in ANY post-Talmudic writings (Geonim, Rishonim, etc...) till after the "revelation" of the Zohar.

3) the practice of lighting bonfires as a Jewish custom is unknown to the ancient Jewish literary sources. The only mention I'm aware of in ancient Jewish literature concerning bonfires was ONLY in the use of bonfires for spreading the message that the new month had arrived.

4) lighting bonfires is a known custom of pagan religions. Earlier this year I learned of a particular pagan practice of lighting bonfires throughout Europe during the 5th month of the Gregorian calendar. Unfortunately, due to moving several times this year, I lost the reference I had saved on it. Fortunately, just a few moments ago I found another reference to an ancient custom of lighting bonfires around the time of Lag ba'Omer in National Geographic. It's a custom of Beltane, a pagan Celtic holiday.

5) lighting candles in honor of the dead is found in MANY pagan religions, and is not mentioned in ancient Jewish texts. The currect practice among some Jews of lighting candles in honor of Shimon bar Yohhai on Lag ba'Omer is relatively recent.

6) erecting structures for people to congregate around, even if such congregating is completely divorced from idolatry, violates one of the 613 commandments of the Torah. One needs not search long to find pictures of MASS congregating around the graves of Shimon Bar Yohhai during Lag ba'Omer. (Same can be said for what goes on in Uman during Rosh haShana). I don't believe the structure around these tombs, around which people gather, was built just to provide habitation for the doves in the area.

7) If these customs of Lag ba'Omer are not found in ancient Jewish literature, and are known to be popular among pagans, is it a stretch to make an educated guess as to from where Jews learned these practices?

There are individuals among the observant Jewish world who would say it is prohibited to take part in these customs. Their reasoning is that there is a klal (principle) in Jewish law: When in doubt regarding an issue concerning a Torah commandment - lehahhmir (be strict). Adopting pagan customs violates one of the 613 commandments of the Torah. If there is reason for such doubt regarding these customs, and clearly there is no basis in Talmudic law for doing them, then the matter is clear -> lehahhmir.

When will we be as careful and joyous in the fulfillment of all the Creator's commandments before we are so extravagant in the observance of human innovations which are contrary to and annexed onto His Torah? 16:53, 4 November 2007 (UTC)


[1] can be added to ext. links on this page. Couldn't do it myself since I have connections to the site. Tnx יוסף שמח (talk) 16:48, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

Hitler and Lag BaOmer[edit]

Grammatical comparison to Tisha B'Av and Tu B'Shevat[edit]

I added comment -- after comment that Sephardim claim Lag LaOmer is more "grammatically correct" than Lag BaOmer -- that Lag BaOmer does follow the same pattern as Tu Beshevat and Tisha B'Av. This comment was deleted as "irrelevant." I don't understand why it is not relevant. If there is a claim Lag BaOmer is not grammatically correct, this is a good counterpoint. And, in an article on Lag BaOmer, does this comment ultimately really hurt -- or is it an addition? I think it offers at least a little bit of interesting information. NearTheZoo (talk) 21:49, 2 May 2010 (UTC)

Sorry, I've never heard of this idea of comparing holidays because they use gematria in their names. Do you have a source for this? Otherwise it's original research. Yoninah (talk) 22:50, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
I think you're misunderstanding my statement, or else I just did not make myself clear. This is not a matter at all of gematria (which involves adding up the numerical values of the letters for a homiletical reason), and it is not a matter of comparing holidays. This is simply a matter of the etymology of the name of the holiday. Ashkenazim say LagBaOmer, and the article rightly points out that the Sephardim say LagLaOmer. So far, so good. However, then there is the statement that "some claim" that the Sephardic term is more "grammatically correct." (By the way, this is an unsourced statement -- but I do see that there is a "citation needed" for that statement.) My addition is simply an extension of that discussion about grammar and the etymology of the term, by saying that LagBaOmer follows the grammar/etymology rules of other holy day names, FOR EXAMPLE, Tu B'Shvat and Tisha B'Av. Like Lag BaOmer, they use the "b" (IN), not the "L" (as in the Sephardic term). So -- and I apologize for writing so much, but I am trying to make what I wrote clear -- I am not comparing the holy days in any way other than as grammatical/etymological examples, to show that the Ashkenazic term, "Lag BaOmer," does follow a pretty consistent grammatical formula. I think this is a good additional fact, if the statement is going to stand that the term, "Lag BaOmer," is somehow not grammatically correct. Does this make sense to you? I still think there is "relevance," because it is relevant to the discussion of the derivation of the Ashkenazic term as opposed to the term used by the Sephardim. NearTheZoo (talk) 00:30, 3 May 2010 (UTC)
Dear NearTheZoo, I see that you're a new editor around here, and I hope you stay and enjoy the place. But I think you should read the page WP:No original research. Everything you're saying makes sense, but everything that's written here has to have a reliable source as a reference. (Please click on these blue links as you read along to see what I'm referring to.) The "citation needed" tag means that if a reliable source isn't found for this assertion, it can be removed. Frankly, I looked at this page for the first time this year and found a lot of erroneous information on it. I didn't get to this section yet, but when I do, I will rewrite it and cite sources for everything I say. Yoninah (talk) 10:31, 3 May 2010 (UTC)
Dear Yoninah, Thanks for your kind words! I am relatively new, but I'm very much enjoying being here! :) Please bear with me for one more comment! My feeling is that if the statement that "some claim" that LagBaOmer is less grammatically correct is taken out, then there what I added is no longer relevant. My comment would not be relevant for an article on Lag BaOmer that does not include a discussion about the grammatical accuracy of the term. Once that discussion is there, however, then my comment is relevant to that discussion. And, as far as being original research (and thanks for the reference, because I am still learning!), I may be wrong, but I don't see my statement as original research: just mentioning a fact. For example, if an article about holidays questioned whether the expression, "the Ides of March" (or "the first of never," the old song title) was grammatically correct, I don't think it would be original research (or need a source) to note that it followed the same formula (grammatical construction) as "the fourth of July." Would it? Again, thanks for your encouragement for me! I just continue to think that leaving a statement/claim that "Lag BaOmer" is somehow not grammatically correct, without adding the pretty obvious and universally-known (universally known by anyone who knows any names of Jewish holy days) that it has the grammatical "credentials" of sharing the formula of every other holiday that starts with a number makes it a weaker article. NearTheZoo (talk) 11:42, 3 May 2010 (UTC)
NearTheZoo: The whole premise of Wikipedia is that everything — even well-known facts — must be sourced and referenced to maintain the integrity of the project. Otherwise, it would be nothing more than a blog, containing everyone's personal opinions. You can read lots of pages on the subject (see list here[3]), such as Wikipedia is not for things made up one day, and so on. Even if you know it's true, you must reference it with a reliable source to give the project credibility. The "citation needed" statement needs a reference, or else it's going to be removed. When I work on this again, I will search the net for reliable sources that make this statement, and quote them. I will then search for the statement you're making, and if I find it in a reliable source, I'll quote that too. This is simply not the place to add statements on top of questionable statements. Yoninah (talk) 12:55, 3 May 2010 (UTC)
--Yoninah, OK, please bear with me -- one more time! Since I link the holiday names, Tu Beshvat and Tisha B'Av, to their articles on wikipedia, isn't this citation enough to support my statement? After all, my statement is ONLY that these other holy days use the "b" ("in") as part of their names -- and both of these linked articles do include the explanation that the terms for those holy days use that formula. NearTheZoo (talk) 13:12, 3 May 2010 (UTC)
---PS: I'll trust your judgment and decision at this point, whether to leave my comment or delete it -- but I do hope it remains, just as long as the discussion of the "grammatical accuracy" of the Ashkenazic v Sephardic terms remain. Thanks for your help! NearTheZoo (talk) 13:33, 3 May 2010 (UTC)
---Oops, one more note: I just added links to Tu BeShevat and Tisha B'Av, which explain the name. Maybe NOW I've finally done it right? :) Anyway, whatever you decide, thanks for the time you've invested in my education! (That's a serious note, NOT sarcastic!). NearTheZoo (talk) 14:42, 3 May 2010 (UTC)

Dear NearTheZoo: The statement that you're making is that Lag BaOmer has the same grammatical construction as Tu Bishvat and Tisha B'Av, right? So you need to find a reference that says exactly that. Pointing me to articles that use the words Tu Bishvat and Tisha B'Av is not enough.

Meanwhile, I've spent a lot of time right now trying to research this issue. Do you count the Omer? I do, and I know that there are two different ways of doing it, but I can't find anything on the web that says LaOmer is more grammatically correct. (In fact, all I find are Wikipedia mirror sites that simply quote this article, which was obviously written off the top of someone's head). Instead, I left the assertion of grammatical correctness with the "citation needed" template, and then gave another, referenced explanation of the difference between BaOmer and LaOmer. If you can find a printed explanation of why LaOmer is more grammatically correct, please add it and remove the "citation needed" tag.

BTW, on talk pages like this, you should add one more colon than the statement before yours in order to indent your comment properly.

I see you have a lot of interest and motivation to improve this encyclopedia. Keep it up! All the best, Yoninah (talk) 15:20, 3 May 2010 (UTC)

Dear Yoninah, I thank you again! (And yes, I count the omer. Do you know my favorite omer joke -- also my only omer joke -- about the man who asks his wife, one night during the omer, what they'll have for dinner, and her answer is, "We had chicken yesterday"!)
Anyway (back to the subject!), I was trying to link to articles that showed the translation of holiday names using the beit before the month was "of," similar to Lag BaOmer. I don't know a reference which claims that Lag BaOmer is not grammatically correct, and finding a resource that specifically uses Tu BeShvat and/or Tisha B'Av, as examples of this formula might be impossible, simply because (to the best of my knowledge) EVERY Jewish holiday that starts with a date uses this formula, including TU B'Av, 17th of Tammuz, 10th of Tevet, etc. The point I was trying to make (and ONLY in response to the claim that the Lag BaOmer usage was somehow incorrect) was that it was "standard usage," used for all holidays. I guess the only real reference would be a grammar book. (In English, I guess there would be a grammar rule out there somewhere that explained why we say "Fourth of July," as opposed to "Fourth in July," but I am not sure.) In any event, I think you've listened to me, and (if I understand you correctly) the objection is no longer that my comment was not relevant, just that it is not accurately or appropriately sourced/supported. And, again, absent that hypothetical grammar book, I cannot find anything more definitive than articles that explain the names of other holy days that use the beit as being translated "of," in the same way we say 33rd day "of" the omer.
I do think you've improved the article with the explanation you have added about one reason that BaOmer is preferable! Kol hakavod!
I have enjoyed our discussion, and learned from it!
Best wishes on this LAD BaOmer! NearTheZoo (talk) 15:53, 3 May 2010 (UTC)
Re your joke: very funny!
I think we're ready to delete that unsupported statement that you felt the need to expand. Unless and until someone comes up with a reference that LaOmer is more grammatically correct, we should just take it out so it won't confuse anyone further.
I moved the discussion of Lad BaOmer to its own section. Care to expand it?
Best, Yoninah (talk) 16:29, 3 May 2010 (UTC)
Thanks, Yoninah! The joke only works with a select audience, of course! :) I also thank you for your note on my user page, which I have just followed up. As for Lad BaOmer, I think I'll step back from commenting on the Omer for awhile, except in the evening brachot! In the meantime, I do think your decision about removing the unsupported statement. And without that "point," no need for my "counterpoint"! Thanks again for all your help! NearTheZoo (talk) 21:18, 3 May 2010 (UTC)


The constant defenses of the most mystical interpretations of the origin of the day (e.g. that Rabi Shimon bar Yochai instructed his students to celebrate the day of his death) and dismissing the opposing arguments at "there are those who dispute...but..." is very biased to a view that many traditional Jewish sources oppose vehemently, let alone academic sources. This article needs a lot of work. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ari1891adler (talkcontribs) 00:24, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

I agree. Lag BaOmer seems to represent many things to many people. The opposing views should be divided into clear subsections. I started doing that with the last section, "Zionist tradition". That should be moved up into the discussion, too. Yoninah (talk) 09:43, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
I also agree. That said, the points that Ari1891adler makes above are the only truly disputed items. Most of the rest is about what people do on the day (whether from good or bad reasoning, appropriate or not), and is pretty much factual. Question (to address the issue in time to have the date included on main page this year): Can we tuck this dispute into a section of its own, and let the rest of the facts stand on their own? StevenJ81 (talk) 16:20, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
Can somebody explain precisely what is disputed, preferably with a diff or two? I see no real discussion of late. Debresser (talk) 08:17, 16 April 2013 (UTC)
I'll leave that to others. I have a feeling the dispute tag is too extreme, myself. StevenJ81 (talk) 14:07, 16 April 2013 (UTC)
I just removed the dispute tag. I read through the article carefully and did not find any "defensiveness" more than we usually put in articles. In keeping with WP:NPOV the article is stating different opinions rather than showing "bias". I do not understand at all Ari1891adler's idea that "many traditional Jewish sources oppose vehemently" the views that the article is taking. If Ari has some traditional Jewish sources or academic sources to add to the discussion, please go ahead. In the meantime, the only defensiveness I can see is in the last paragraph under Origins, which is very muddled for people who aren't familiar with traditional religious terminology. As it is unsourced, I'm inclined to remove that paragraph altogether.
My comment about opposing views, which I made back in December 2012, was that Lag BaOmer does mean different things to different people. When I first started researching the topic, I noticed that every Israeli travel guide talks about Lag BaOmer as being the holiday commemorating the Bar Kokhba revolt, with no mention at all of the rabbinic sources of the holiday. After finding the Zerubavel article, I understood how deeply entrenched Zionist ideology is in modern Israel secular culture. Today I expanded that section with another source. Certainly more can be written, but I don't have time right now. Yoninah (talk) 14:59, 16 April 2013 (UTC)
I agree with Yoninah's position. With all respect, though, Yoninah, I am going to remove the word "secular" from the phrase "Israeli secular culture" in the lead (only). As a Modern-Orthodox Zionist, I think it is fair to say that as in many other areas, Modern Orthodoxy will somewhat try to bridge the gap. Hence Modern Orthodoxy doesn't entirely reject the additional interpretation, while certainly not rejecting the traditional POV. StevenJ81 (talk) 15:31, 16 April 2013 (UTC)
Good point, thanks. Yoninah (talk) 15:34, 16 April 2013 (UTC)
So at this point, we'll see if anyone objects to this. If not, we can report to howcheng that the issue is resolved. StevenJ81 (talk) 15:41, 16 April 2013 (UTC)
I'd replace "In modern Israeli culture" by "In modern Israel". Also, I don't know in how much this is still true. The article mentions this was done around the time the State of Israel was established. What about our times? Debresser (talk) 17:11, 16 April 2013 (UTC)
Well, that's a good question. My off-the-cuff answer would be something like: (1) It's still that way, in general. (2) The nuances of the history of the Bar Kochba rebellion are probably more widely known today. StevenJ81 (talk) 17:17, 16 April 2013 (UTC)

I came here to help resolve a dispute, but it seems like peace and harmony has broken out. How very unusual. It's quite taken me aback. Are there any outstanding issues of dispute? --Dweller (talk) 18:55, 23 April 2013 (UTC)

I think we've had an outbreak of achdut, or even achdus, here. Face-wink.svg StevenJ81 (talk) 20:01, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
Great! --Dweller (talk) 20:36, 23 April 2013 (UTC)

That achdut was sure brief ...[edit]

OK, I think we need to be a little careful here about not automatically undoing things:

  1. I reverted the latest IP edit because it was unsourced, but mostly because it was poorly worded; I could not figure out what the person was really trying to say.
  2. I partially restored the long IP edit that Debresser reverted. Use of the whole, long quotation was inappropriate, and it made the fact that the edit was sourced far from obvious. I think the point of the edit is that if the Zionists really "reinterpreted" the history, they did not do so from whole cloth; rather, there was non-trivial support from traditional sources.
  3. I removed one of the two appearances of "ideologues" from that paragraph; one was plenty. (That's probably the word that felt non-neutral to the IP editor.)

Can we please get back to harmony before Sunday? Shabbat Shalom ... StevenJ81 (talk) 17:02, 26 April 2013 (UTC)

I can live with your edits. Debresser (talk) 17:54, 27 April 2013 (UTC)

Ideologues and quotes[edit]

I made the long IP edit. My response is:

1) While I appreciate that one usage of "ideologues" was removed, I think the second one should be as well. It is generally understood to be pejorative, meaning impractical or blindly partisan - [1] . In what other Wikipedia articles are proponents of a viewpoint referred to as ideologues?

2) Secondly, the statement of "some Orthodox" is too weak, in my opinion. The quote about Akiva being an adherent of Bar Kochba is from Maimonides, who is accepted as an authority by every Orthodox Jewish group. They might not all agree with the emphasis on the patriotic elements, but I did not dispute that and I left in the re-emphasis by Israel.

3) While I admit that the original quote was too long, I feel that its complete excision is unjustified. In particular, I think the quote from Maimonides should have stayed. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

I do not think that the word "ideologues" is pejorative. And even if it were to a certain extend, then its use would still be justified. After all, rewriting history according to your political agenda is not a nice thing. Russian communists and present governments do this all the time. Debresser (talk) 08:27, 28 April 2013 (UTC)
I agree with Debresser. Regarding Rabbi Akiva's support of Bar Kokhba, every Jewish schoolchild knows that Rabbi Akiva, like many other rabbis of his day, were enamored by Bar Kokhba and thought that he was the Mashiach. When Bar Kokhba was defeated by the Romans, however, Rabbi Akiva realized his error and retracted his support. Any discussion or interpretation of this episode needs to be supported by more than one source, and should especially quote the original sources themselves. Yoninah (talk) 09:15, 28 April 2013 (UTC)
OK. Since the current standing version is my work, I would point out:
  1. If you don't actually think history was rewritten, then "ideologues" is pejorative.
  2. I left it in once anyway, because there is some truth to the matter. I just didn't think it was justified both times.
  3. On the other hand, the question is not so much about whether R' Akiva supported Bar Kochba (he did, then retracted) but about whether there is some traditional support for the connection of Lag B'Omer to Bar Kochba (as opposed to this being an absolute rewrite of history). There is, through that connection to Rabbi Akiva. But it tends to be brought out more by Religious Zionists than haredim. Hence, "some." StevenJ81 (talk) 12:04, 28 April 2013 (UTC)


Can someone please give a source where in Talmud or Midrash the day of Lag Baomer is mentioned? I was under the impression that the first mention was in mystical works written later than the Gemara? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:30, 28 April 2013 (UTC)

You're right. I did some research and found that the first mention was in the 13th century by the Meiri, a leading Talmudist. I amended and added references to the page. Thanks, Yoninah (talk) 22:45, 28 April 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. I noticed that the paragraph replaced by original insert about the view of the Tosafists, but I can live without that, if the Meiri is there. Either way, I took out part of the paragraph because there was another thing attributed to the Talmud that isn't there - the whole thing about "befitting their level" and the explanation of it is not there. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ari1891adler (talkcontribs) 03:54, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
Since the explanation is after all rooted in later Jewish sources, you could have simply moved up the reference earlier in the sentence, and leave the explanation in place after the reference. That is sometimes a smart way out of such issues when not all of a statement is in the source. Debresser (talk) 07:22, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
The thing is, I think the extra stuff was more homily than explanation - I'm not so sure it's was ever intended as an actual explanation. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:19, 2 June 2013 (UTC)

"Support in Traditional Sources"[edit]

Debresser, would you take my language with "there is traditional support" or even "there is some traditional support"? Maybe strong is WP:Synthesis, but I think the source itself lends itself to a softer claim without it being synthesis on my part. StevenJ81 (talk) 12:21, 29 April 2013 (UTC)

As I understand the two sources, both only say that it is a theory that if the words of the Talmud were not supposed to be understood literally but rather as an allusion to something, then that could be an allusion to a military defeat and respectively victory. This in itself is a large claim, and rather fringe. (1. Even modern Bible commentaries do this with the Bible only, but not with a later texts like the Talmud. 2. There are uncensored version of the Talmud after centuries of Christian censure, so why would a short era of Roman censure be reason to look for veiled allusions?) And it is suggested hypothetically that this could be a recapture of Jerusalem. Surely you are not suggesting seriously to mention anything like that in this article? And especially not referring to "traditional sources" as basis for these assumptions and suggestions?! Debresser (talk) 14:17, 29 April 2013 (UTC)
Point taken. I skimmed through the sources too quickly the first time. As long as we avoid language around "rewriting" history and leave it at "interpreting" or "reinterpreting" history, I'm satisfied. StevenJ81 (talk) 15:21, 29 April 2013 (UTC)
"rewriting" is what they did in Russia. They simply rewrote the history books. I am not sure this is not what happened in Israel as well. But in absence of a source stating so, I too would have no problem with "reinterpreting". Debresser (talk) 16:58, 29 April 2013 (UTC)

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Standard formatting[edit]

Not a subject expert, so I haven't changed the article, but there seems to be a fair bit of inconsistency in the formatting and capitalization of the name. We have Lag BaOmer (unitalicized), Lag BaOmer (italicized) and Lag Baomer (in picture caption). The boldface in the Etymology section seems a bit over the top as well. Dave.Dunford (talk) 17:07, 3 May 2018 (UTC)

Here I can help. Should be Lag BaOmer with three capitals, per WP:HEBREW. Should be all instances italicized per MOS:FOREIGNITALIC. Debresser (talk) 10:27, 4 May 2018 (UTC)