1170 (s5780-33/ 17 Iyar, 5780 / May 11, 2020)

Lag b'Omer in Jail

When Lag b'Omer 2013 was only a few days away, an honorable Jew in Jerusalem was imprisoned, feeling very upset that he would not be able to go to Meron.

Connections (2): 1) Lag b'Omer; 2) Lockdown!


Story in PDF format for more convenient printing.

Lengthier, Video version on YouTube, recorded on May 9, 10:45pm



The Ascent storyteller WhatsAPP group

Audio, Video and Zoom! stories on Saturday night!
To Join "TillesTells", click on:


Lag b'Omer in Jail

In the spring of the year 5773, a certain G-d fearing, honorable Jew who lived in Jerusalem was imprisoned for some reason. As Lag b'Omer was fast approaching, this prisoner was very upset that he couldn't be in Meron for the festive occasion because of the few days he would be in detention.

When his son came to visit, he asked him to represent his father in Meron and pray for him there, all the while expressing his dismay that he can't go there as well. "I've gone every year since I was a child, but now I am behind bars and unable to attend."

The son replied encouragingly, "Since you go to Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai every year but this year you can't for a reason beyond your control, I am certain that Rabbi Shimon will this year come to you instead!"

His father smiled. He appreciated his son's effort to cheer him up, but of course it was just naïve and wishful thinking.

So what happened? That year, on Lag b'Omer night, a fire broke out in the prison compund. The Jewish inmates took advantage of the fire to dance around it and sing joyously the three classic Lag b'Omer songs over and over. Thus, they had a genuine Lag b'Omer bonfire celebration right there in prison!

Nor was that all. The fire caused so much damage, the jail needed repairs. As a result, there wasn't room for all the prisoners, so the next morning, on Lag b'Omer day, the ones with the lightest sentences were freed.

So it seems that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai did go to the remorseful Jew, just as his son had said. He, and many others of the prisoners, were able to celebrate on Lag b'Omer, and then to be set free as well.


Source: -Extracted and extensively revised by Yerachmiel Tilles from story #1013 in this series, which was previously adapted from the "Torah Wellsprings" of R. Elimelech Biderman (Emor 5776 -- translated of R. Baruch Twersky).

Connections (2): 1) Lag b'Omer; 2) Lockdown!

Biographical note:
Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, one of the most important sages in Jewish history, lived over 1800 years ago. Teachings in his name abound throughout the Mishnah, Gemarah, and Midrashim, while the Zohar, the primary source text of Kabbalah, is built around Rabbi Shimon's revelations to his inner circle of disciples. During the hours before his passing, on Lag b'Omer, he disclosed the "most sublime" secrets of Torah, in order to ensure that the day would always be an occasion for great joy, untouched by sadness because of the Omer period and mourning for him. The seminal importance of the Zohar in Jewish thought and the annual pilgrimage to Meron on Lag b"Omer are testimonies to his success.


Yerachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and chief editor of this website (and of KabbalaOnline.org). He has hundreds of published stories to his credit, and many have been translated into other languages. He tells them live at Ascent nearly every Saturday night.

To receive the Story by e-mail every Wednesday--sign up here!

"Festivals of the Full Moon"
("Under the Full Moon" vol 2 - holiday stories)
is now available for purchase from ASCENT
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Book 1 of Yerachmiel Tilles's 3-volume set, "Saturday Night, Full Moon",
is also available for
purchase on our KabbalaOnline-shop site.

back to Top   back to this year's Story Index   Stories home page   Stories Archives
Redesign and implementation - By WEB-ACTION