Lag Baomer has always been a great day in itself; before the days of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochay, and even before the counting of the Omer. It is the day that judgment is changed into mercy. On this day, after finally leaving the exile with his wives, children, much cattle and sheep, Ya’akov built a monument that he positioned between his camp and Lavan’s. It is called the Gal Ed. (Gal is numerically equivalent to 33) The relationship between Ya’akov and Lavan was much like Am Yisrael in Mitzrayim (that left their servitude in great wealth). On the 33rd day of their Exodus, in the interval between the physical birth from Egypt and the spiritual birth of receiving the Torah, they experienced complete liberty in its entirety from Mitzrayim on a level unique only to that day the 18th of Iyar). This day symbolizes the relinquishment of any foreign nation’s official occupation of Am Yisrael. This falls out on Lag Baomer- the day Lavan and Mitzrayim are subdued.
The Arizal brings down that Bilam Harasha was the gilgul(reincarnation) of Lavan. Bilam lived lag (33) years. His entire goal as the head of the mixed multitudes was to reverse the process of redemption of Am Yisrael and return them to Egypt. He wanted to cause the Jewish people to be in eternal galut, as all of our enemies have tried through time to do. But what Bilam didn’t know was that Am Yisrael return only to Hashem.
A person can attain spirituality through 3 channels. 1) his/her spirit (what he hears, what he learns and how this affects him 2) the holiness of time, the virtues of the holidays 3) the holiness of a certain place and the influence it has on a person’s da’at. That special feeling of Shabbat- we cannot take with us into Sunday. The healing power it gives we can’t feel on a Wednesday. We don’t mix holidays and their specific significance. A lulav and etrog can’t be used on Chanukah and on Shavuot we don’t make a seder. – When we go to a holy place like Israel and kivrey tzadikim(the tombs of the righteous) we experience real and unique impressions on our psyche. But later, maybe not the next day but later, the original magic of what we felt when we were there ebbs…. You can’t take that place with you! (unless you decide to live there).
Lag Baomer is all encompassing in these 3 components. It is unique in this and makes it an extremely special day indeed. On a kabbalistic level it is the HodshebaHod (splender of splender), the time to know what to know and the time not to know what you don’t need to know. The inner nefesh (soul) as a whole receives its vitality on this day. True happiness is connecting to the roots so that the branches can spread out. This is done through the da’at, the root of roots.
Esav is called straw. The house of Ya’akov- fire and the house of Yosef, a great flame. The fire and flames of our forefathers will totally eliminate Amalek (and our doubts) in the merit of this day!
(taken from the teachings of the great tzaddik Harav Chaim Hacohen).
Shabbat Shalom- Leah Goldsmith