Updated: May 31, 2020
Today is Lag Ba'Omer, the 33rd day in the Counting of the Omer, the period between the holidays of Passover (The Festival of Unleavened Bread) and Shavuot (The Festival of the Tabernacle). During the first 32 days it is actually a time of mourning in the Jewish calendar, due to almost all of the 24,000 (or 48,000) students of Rabbi Akiva dying in a plague. [You may remember Rabbi Akiva when your Israel tour guide took you to Caesarea or Tiberias.] The rabbinical explanation of the plague was due to the students not treating each other with respect. During this time we don't marry, shave, etc. The plague ended on the 33rd day, which we celebrate the holiday of Lag Ba'Omer. One of Rabbi Akiva's star students who did survive, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (whom I talk about in Tzfat), later on passed away on this date but wanted the day of his death to be a happy day. While this year the celebrations are subdued - no 600,000 people having the world's largest tailgate party on Mount Meron - the holiday has become more meaningful than in any time in my life. We too have been suffering from a plague and are just starting to come out of it now. How did we fare compared to Rabbi Akiva's students? While there have been mistakes and knuckleheads, overall Israeli society has handled it quite well (see my next post). And some times we were even magnificent. Here are 25 of the most beautiful moments in which light was spread during this darkness.