This is the day of Hod within Hod, humility within humility. On this day, I think about how my humility is deepened when I appreciate other people – the strengths they have in areas where I am weak, the insights they have from which I can learn, and the struggles they have endured. I remember that there are great lessons in life that can be learned only when I lower my egos to value others.
Lag B'Omer has many different meanings in Jewish tradition. The Talmud explains that it was a day that brought relief to a plague that struck the students of Rabbi Akiva (B. Yevamot 62b). In Israel, Lag B'Omer is celebrated by religious and secular Jews with bonfires and outdoor games. The origin of the bonfire celebrations probably comes from a story that connects the holiday to the death of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, the teacher of mysteries who is the central figure of the Zohar.
According to the Zohar, the most important text of Jewish mysticism, Shimon bar Yochai pronounced his final and greatest revelation of the Torah's secrets on Lag B'Omer, the day of his death. In his vision, he saw nothing but the fire of God's presence and revealed that the inmost reality of the universe is that "there is nothing by the High Spark, hidden, unrevealed!”
Lag B'Omer, therefore, stands as I day in which we celebrate the greatest lesson of humility we could ever learn. Everything is a manifestation of God. All of our conceits about our abilities, our qualities, and our very existence is nothing but an illusion. God is the only real reality that is present, unrevealed, in each moment.
On this 33rd day of the Counting of the Omer, I commit to seeing the presence of God in each person I encounter. To remember that their life's stories, their blessings and burdens, are all a part of the story of God who fills everything.
May this be a day in which you find the peace that comes from quieting your ego enough to see the resplendent divinity that lies at the heart of all things.
For the introduction to the Counting of the Omer, click on this link:
The First Day of the Counting of the Omer