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Lag B’Omer Connects Jews to Mother Nature

Jews are always reminded to count their blessings, especially during the period of Omer when we literally count the days between Passover and the festival of Shavuot. Historically, this counting ritual has agricultural significance because it counts the days from the planting to the first harvest. Lag B’Omer, which is not really a word, but the number 33 in Hebrew, falls in the middle of the cycle and is celebrated with a day of family outdoor fun. Our connection to nature is the foundation of our Jewish civilization, so go ahead and enjoy this special Spring holiday to its fullest with your favorite outdoor activity.

As if I need an excuse to have a picnic or play outside, Lag B’Omer is the perfect time to spread a blanket on the ground and dip pita chips into hummus. If you’re lucky enough to catch a rainbow, count your blessings by saying the blessing: Zocher habrit, vene’eman bevrito, vekayam et maamaro, which means “who remembers the covenant (with Noah), and is faithful to the covenant and loyal to the promise.”

In Judaism, a rainbow is not only a beautiful, colorful sight to behold, but also a message from God. According to the story of the Flood in Genesis, a rainbow represents God’s promise that even though He is angry enough to send a flood again, He is keeping his covenant with humanity.

Other ways to celebrate Lag B’Omer include check out a new park, cheer on a baseball team, sip the fruit of the vine at a local winery, work up a sweat on a bike ride, hike a scenic trail, or do whatever your children can agree on, as long as it’s outdoors. The adventurous ones like to dress in bows and arrows and reenact the outdoor warriors who defended the Torah and their Jewish independence. Another Israeli custom on the eve of Lag B’Omer is to make a bonfire. Invite family and friends to share refreshments and sing nostalgic folk songs around the crackling flames that light up the night.

And as the firewood turns to ash, glance up at the floating stars, and count your blessings.

“Mishegas of Motherhood” is the creation of Ellie S. Grossman, a St. Louis freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom who never stays home. Her stories are inspired by the real life of her family, including her two children, toy poodle named Luci, and her husband, but not necessarily in that order. Feel free to send any comments, prayers or recipes to: ellie@mishegasofmotherhood.com or visit her new website at www.mishegasofmotherhood.com.