18 of the Second Month 5767
Last year in a set of courageous newpaper interviews, Rav Avraham Kosman revealed his research demonstrating that Rabbi Shimon Bar-YoHai [RaShB"I] did not actually die on 18 Iyyar, the 33rd day of S'firath haOmer (counting of the Omer, See Lev. 23:15-16).
The article in the Shofar newspaper is in Hebrew, so I will give you the highlights:
1. One of the bases for believing that RaShB"I died on "Lag b'Omer" comes from a manuscript of Rabbi Hayim Vital. Rabbi Vital ZTz"L, talmid muvhaq of Rabbi Yitzhaq Luria ZTz"L, the AR"I, supposedly mentions this date as the day of death of RaShB"I. Yet, an examination of the original reveals the abbreviation "shin-mem" for "shemeth" haRaShB"I (died), to be a scribal error. The original reads "simhath" haRaShB"I (happiness, festive day).
2. Leading Qabbalist of modern times, Rabbi Yosef Hayim meBagdad, the Ben Ish Hai, confirms this notion that RaShB"I did not die on this date,...
3. ...as does Rabbi Hayim Yosef David Azulai ZTz"L, the "HID"A."
4. And, even if this were the anniversary of death of RaShB"I, the Hatham Sofer was very much against the idea of celebrating on such a day. "Do we celebrate on Moshe Rabbeinu's anniversary of death?"
5. A little known event also occurred on this date in the year 4123 (363 CE). The Byzantine emperor of the time had granted permission for Jews to rebuild the Temple and to re-institute the sacrificial service. Yet the night they were to lay the foundation, Jerusalem was hit by an earthquake, a day of sorrow.
Many (not all) Jews go through S'firath haOmer, looking horrible with hair and beards (those that normally trim or shave) out of control, completely ignoring the precedence of honoring Shabbath over aveluth (mourning practices), in commemoration of the fall of Rabbi Aqiva's talmidim during this time period.
Before the standardization of the calendar of Hillel, when Tisha b'Av, the date of the destruction of of the first and Second Temples, among other things (Mishnah , would fall on a Friday, men would cut their hair on the preceding Thursday, in honor of the coming Shabbath (Mishnah Ta'anith 4:7)! Yet, heaven forbid they should cut their hair kavod Shabbath (in honor of Shabbath).
However, whatever the Simhath RaShB"I was, it seems to take precedence over the expression of aveluth during S'firath haOmer.
Now I'm really confused.
The case here appears to be that the humra of the minhag of the inyan takes precedence over the hallachah.
Unfortunately, "Lag b'Omer" is not the only manifestation of confused priorities amongst the Jewish People.
I supposed that is because, as we learn in Megilath Esther, everything is hafukh before Ge'ulah (time of redemption).
Sunday, May 06, 2007
18 of the Second Month 5767