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.
version on YouTube, recorded on May 9, 10:45pm
The Ascent storyteller
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).
1) Lag b'Omer; 2) Lockdown!
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.
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.
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("Under the Full Moon" vol 2 - holiday stories)
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"Saturday Night, Full Moon",
is also available for purchase on
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