Lag Ba'omer: Celebration or tragedy?

Prof. Kolbrener and Dr. Hazony talk about the significance of the upcoming holiday.

Lag Baomer bonfire (photo credit: Reuters)
Lag Baomer bonfire
(photo credit: Reuters)
Professor William Kolbrener and Dr. David Hazony join The Jerusalem Post to speak about their thoughts on Lag B’omer ahead of Limmud Jerusalem’s “A Taste of Limmud”conference this coming Thursday.
The period of mourning that transpired between the end of Passover and Lag B’Omer coincided with the death of Rabbi Akiva’s students. The Talmud states that the deaths were the result of sinat hinam – baseless hatred. Rabbi Akiva said that the verse “love your neighbor as yourself” is a core principle in the Torah.
Kolbrener says that the Limmud program embodies this concept and is the reason why it is so apt that the conference be held on Lag Ba'omer. Limmud strives to embrace love and conversation as a form of learning.
“The Torah, through Limmud, no longer becomes a means for which to pursue [one’s] own agenda,” says Kolbrener.
Hazony asserts that Lag Ba’omer reflects a common theme in Judaism of celebration following tragedy. Even though it is essentially a day of celebration, it comes with the knowledge that with every victory there is a price to pay. “You can’t move forward without taking into account some degree of pain and loss,” says Hazony,“there is something very dangerous about a complete, unalloyed victorious moment [and] the sense that we can do anything.”
The purpose of Thursday’s pilot initiative is to raise awareness between different streams ofJudaism and to provide a forum for open dialogue.
For more informationabout “A Taste of Limmud,” please visit