A lesser known Jewish holiday: Lag BaOmer
Lag BaOmer falls on May 27.* “Lag” represents the number 33 in Hebrew and “Omer” is a measure that was used for grain. This festival is not commanded in Scripture; it is purely rabbinical tradition, though the name of the holiday is based on a commandment to count the days from the second night of Pesach (Passover) to the day before Shavuot, (Pentecost). This period is known as the Counting of the Omer. Lag BaOmer is the thirty-third day of that counting period.
If you are interested in knowing more about the traditions concerning this holiday, Torah For Tots is a site designed for Jewish children; however it gives quite a bit of straightforward information on Jewish holidays in a way that is easy to understand without being condescending. To see what this site has to say about Lag BaOmer, go to: http://www.torahtots.com/holidays/lagbomer/lagbomer.htm
To download musical “stationery” for Lag BaOmer go to: https://web.archive.org/web/20091027092442/http://geocities.com/gil_dano/Lagbomer/Lagbomer.HTML
Shavuot, or Pentecost is a much more familiar holiday to most, and one that God commanded in Scripture. This year it falls on June 13.
In Bible times, this holiday was an agricultural festival–a time for the Israelites to present the firstfruits of the crops to God, gratefully giving back to the Lord that which He had given to us.
A firstfruits offering was actually presented at the end of Passover (Leviticus 23:9-14). Then, seven weeks after Passover came Shavuot. This feast literally means “weeks.” Shavuot fell fifty days after the Sabbath that came during Passover (Leviticus 23:15, 16), thus in Greek it was called Pentecost, or “fiftieth.”
After the Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70, the agricultural rites associated with the biblical feasts could no longer be observed. Jewish tradition made a connection between Shavuot and the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, which was believed to have taken place on the fiftieth day after the Israelites came out of Egypt. The holiday became known as, “The Season of the Giving of the Law.” To this day, it has become traditional to observe Shavuot by staying up all night and studying Torah.
In Acts 2 and 3, the New Testament records that the Holy Spirit was poured out at Shavuot. As a result, 3,000 Jewish people recognized that Yeshua (Jesus) was indeed the Messiah, and they turned to God. These souls were the firstfruits of God’s gospel harvest.
To read about traditional Shavuot customs, go to: http://www.jewsforjesus.org/publications/issues/9_9/customs
- This article was written in 2005; dates of Jewish holidays remain the same on the Hebrew calendar but where they fall on the Gregorian calendar (the “regular” January-December calendar) varies year-by-year.
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This content was adapted from an earlier Jews for Jesus article.