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Published by bgeller4936
Shavuot, shavuos, jewish holidays, judaism
Shavuot, shavuos, jewish holidays, judaism

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Published by: bgeller4936 on May 16, 2010
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This period has its own particular atmosphere and customs. From ancient days it has been
observed as a time of semi-mourning. Neither weddings nor any other festivities are
celebrated, and there is a certain melancholy in the air. This may be partly due to the
general feeling of expectancy and solemnity, natural in a period when the Israelites in the
wilderness were waiting for the momentous day when God would reveal himself to them
on Mount Sinai and give them the Torah.

There may be here, also, some reflection of the feelings of the farmer at this season.
Between the sowing and the harvest his heart is full of care and anxiety. Many are the
enemies that may damage the crops; hot winds, field mice, locusts and other insects may
bring to naught all his labour. And so the farmer has no patience for lightheartedness and
merry- making till the days of suspense are over and the harvest is safely gathered in.
But tradition ascribes the mourning during the “Sefirah” to historical causes. The Talmud
says that the great Rabbi Akiva had 24,000 pupils, and that they all died of the plague
between Pesach and Shavuot. Rabbi Akiva was not only one the greatest scholars of the
Mishna -he was also known as one of the principal supporters of Bar Cochba, whose

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revolt against Roman oppression in the second century is one of the most heroic episodes
in our history. It may well be that we have here a hidden reference to the desperate
struggle in which the flower of Israel's youth died for freedom.

Further reasons for mourning occurred in the Middle Ages - the massacres of Jews during
the First Crusade in 1096, and during the Cossack Rising of Chmielnitzki in 1648.
There is only one day, the 33rd day of the Sefirah (called Lag Ba’omer because,
according to the Hebrew system of indicating numbers by letters, Lamed stands for thirty
and Gimmel for three) that is an exception to the genera1 mourning, because, tradition
explains, the plague among Rabbi Akiva's pupils ceased on that day, a belief which is
probably founded on a victory on that day for Bar Cochba's army.

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