Sunday, April 22, 2012
Mourning During the Omer
The seven weeks between Passover and Shavous represent the periods where we fulfill the mitzvah of counting the Omer, commemorate the time between when the Jews left
Egypt and received the Torah on Mount Sinai and finally a mourning period for the death of the students of Rabbi Akiva.
Omer – Counting the Omer is a biblical mitzvah that we fulfill when every night we acknowledge what day it is. This is day One. This is day Two, etc.
Passover to Shavous – We also recognize that when the Jewish people left
they were at an extremely spiritually low point. The Rabbi’s tell us that they were on the 49th level of impurity and they use each of these 49 days to raise themselves another level. There are 7 emotional traits that interact with each other with a different combination each day representing different aspects of our personality. It’s a good thing to work on ourselves every day so that we’re ready to re-accept the Torah on Shavous. Egypt
Rabbi Akiva’s Students - Whereas the first two periods are happy occasions, the third is both sad and confusing. The Rabbis tell us that during this period Rabbi Akiva’s 24,000 students all died. There are a few different opinions as to how they died, but the most popular one is that they died in a plague, because they failed to show each other the proper respect and honor. We commemorate this period by not shaving or having haircuts along with not listening to music.
Another explanation of how Rabbi Akiva’s students died is that they were killed in the Bar Kochba uprising.