Sefirah and LagBaOmer Part III

To recap here is a general timeline of the development of the mourning customs during the days of Sefiras HaOmer: Some time during the first century CE Rabbi Akiva’s students all die during a period between Passover and Shavous Sixth Century The talmud records the story as an example of Rabbi Akiva’s teaching that if you taught students when you were young, you should teach…

Jewish Mourning Customs Between Passover and Shavous

Before dissecting it, let’s first lay out what the accepted modern-day understanding of the origins of Sefira and Lag BaOmer customs are according to the classical Jewish sources. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim siman 493) says: נוהגים שלא לישא אשה בין פסח לעצרת עד ל”ג בעומר מפני שבאותו זמן מתו תלמידי ר’ עקיבא אבל לארס ולקדש שפיר דמי ונשואין נמי מי שקפץ וכנס אין עונשין…

Haircuts, Bonfires and Weddings: Lag BaOmer and the customs of Sefira

It is customary for all Jews to observe some customs of mourning during the days of Sefiras HaOmer – between Pesach and Shavous – and to have a festive day on either the 33rd day of the Omer – or for Sephardim the 34th. These customs are binding for all observant Jews as codified in the Tur and the Shulchan Aruch etc. That said, it…

Hebrew Calendar / Sefira Page w/ The Hebcal API

Happy Passover all! I recently discovered Hebcal, a free Jewish Calendar API. I was stuck at home with some kind of allergy/ asthma thing, so I spent some time today playing w/ it here. For now it only shows the candle lighting times here in Bet Shemesh, so next I’ll set it up to check the users location and set it to that. For now,…

Hoshana Rabbah – Why We Thrash – Part II

For those unfamiliar with the general practice of Hoshana Rabbah we will not get overly involved in the minutiae of the Jewish ritualistic law that surrounds it. Here is what you need to know: On all days of Sukkos all Jews circle the “bima” (place where the Torah is read from) once with the four species. On the last day this is done in a prolonged…

Hoshana Rabbah: Why We Thrash Part I

The Prequel Almost a year ago Sukkos time, I contacted a friend of mine, by the name of Reuven Chaim Klien, the esteemed author of Loshon HaKodesh: History, Holiness & Hebrew, to ask him whether he had ever heard of a pagan origin of the Jewish custom to thrash willow branches on the ground at the end of the services on the last day of…

Sourdough Project: Day Three

Today is day three of our sourdough project. We think that maybe tomorrow the starter / שאור will be ready to make bread with. We’ve noticed that the starter has as strong vinegary smell – but that it just smells vinegary, it doesn’t smell like it is rotting 😉 Yosef was taking a nap so he didn’t join us today, hopefully he’ll be awake for…