We remember the deceased with words of praise, memories, stones, sirens, and moments of silence. In the Jewish tradition, we also light candles to honor them.
- Why do you think we mark the anniversary of a person's death with a yahrzeit (lit. "time of the year") candle?
- What mood(s) does the yahrzeit candle typically evoke for you?
The book of Proverbs hints at a possible reason for lighting a candle on this occasion. One reading suggests that the flame of a candle can be an embodiment of the soul of a person:
On Lag BaOmer, we light a flame as well. Our tradition gives almost as many reasons for why we light a flame on Lag BaOmer as there are ways to spell the holiday. One of the reasons we light a flame on Lag BaOmer is to remember Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who died on Lag BaOmer. It's his yahrzeit! But what we light is not quite a yahrzeit candle:
A hilula is a yahrzeit - the Hebrew anniversary of someone's death - for a great teacher of Jewish mysticism. Rather than being a day of sadness and mourning, however, it is typically marked a day of celebration.
And in the case of Lag BaOmer, we celebrate this great teacher's yahrzeit by lighting bonfires outdoors and as a community.
- Why do you think we have outdoor communal bonfires on Lag BaOmer, instead of lighting smaller yahrzeit candles within our own owns?
- Imagine a world where we would hold celebrations to mark the yahrzeit's of our own friends or relatives who have had an impact on us. How "Jewish" would that feel to you?
- Like the light of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and his Torah, which we help keep alive as a community on Lag BaOmer, who in your life has a fire you'd like to reignite or keep aglow? How can you use the power of togetherness and community to make sure their light never goes out?