Climbing Mt. Meron - A Lag BaOmer Scavenger Hunt (Teacher's Guide)

In this self-directed scavenger hunt, students will meet the following goals:

  • Learn basic facts about Lag BaOmer, including the meaning of the name, the major personalities associated with the day, and customs.
  • Learn how to conduct research on Sefaria.
  • Learn how to use the Mishnaic and Talmudic Biographies feature.
  • Gain an introduction to major works in the Jewish library.
  • Have fun!

The scavenger hunt is directed toward students in grades 7-10. It would also be appropriate for younger students who are able to work with advanced texts.

To use the scavenger hunt, share the sheet (Climbing Mt. Meron - A Lag BaOmer Scavenger Hunt) with your students.

Send the URL of the sheet to each student and have them each copy the sheet and rename it. You might want the new name to include the student’s name for easy record keeping. After the students complete the work, they can send the URL of their completed sheet to you through email, Whatsapp, or your LMS. If they set the sheet to “Anyone with access can add”, you can write feedback directly on the student’s sheet.

Below is the sheet with the answers filled in.

צילום:ד"ר אבישי טייכר, PikiWiki Israel 15276 Mount Meron, CC BY 2.5

Learn about the origins and customs of Lag BaOmer while racing to the top of Mt. Meron. The answer to each clue is the number of steps that you will take up the mountain. Add up all of your steps to get the final answer.

Make a copy of this sheet and retitle it to include your name. To copy a sheet, click on the sheet’s name in the header and click on “Copy”. You must be logged into your account in order to copy the sheet.

Clue #1

We will begin by discussing the name of the holiday, “Lag BaOmer”.

An “omer” is a measure of grain that was brought to the Temple between the festivals of Passover and Shavuot.

To take your first steps up the mountain, answer the following question:

How long is the omer period?

To research a topic on Sefaria, type the keyword into the search bar. From the drop down menu, choose the result that has your keyword preceded by a #. This opens the topic page for your subject.

  • Open the topic page for “Omer”.

  • Click on the first source in the list of sources

  • Read verses 15-16

  • The number of days that we count the omer is the number of steps that you will be taking from Clue #1.

Write the number on the answer key below.

Clue #2

Now that we know that the omer is the period of time between Pesach and Shavuot, we want to know what the first part of the name, “Lag”, means.

To take your next steps up the mountain, answer the following question:

What number is “Lag”?

In Hebrew, each letter has a corresponding numerical value. This system is called “gematria”.

The Hebrew spelling of the name of the holiday is ל״ג בעומר. The first word is not really a word at all! Instead, it is the date of the holiday expressed in gematria.

To determine the value of ל״ג, use a gematria calculator.

  • Click on the link to open the calculator.

  • Type (or copy/paste) the letters “לג”.

  • Press enter or חישוב in the red box.

The numerical value of “Lag” is the number of steps that you will take in Clue #2.

Write the number on the answer key below.

Clue #3

We now understand the name of the holiday and are ready to dig a little deeper into what we are celebrating on this day.

The origins of Lag BaOmer and the reason for the celebration is not as clear as we might hope. Two major Jewish figures are associated with Lag BaOmer. In this clue, we will look at one of the figures and see what he contributed to Lag BaOmer.

Rabbi Akiva

The omer period is a time of mourning due to a plague that broke out among Rabbi Akiva’s 24,000 students. The story of Rabbi Akiva and his students is found in the Talmud Bavli. The Talmud is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism.

  • Click on the link to the Talmud Bavli and read the short passage which talks about Rabbi Akiva’s students

    • What happened to them during the omer period?

    • According to the Talmud, why did this happen?

  • Learn more about Rabbi Akiva.

    • When reading in the Talmud or Mishnah, you can double click on the name of a rabbi to read a short biography in the resource panel.

    • Read about Rabbi Akiva

      • At what age did Rabbi Akiva begin his Judaic studies?

      • What was Rabbi Akiva’s wife’s name?

    • Rabbi Akiva has a great story. If you have time, read more about Rabbi Akiva on the My Jewish Learning website.

So what does all of this have to do with Lag BaOmer? According to tradition, the bad thing that happened to Rabbi Akiva’s students stopped on Lag BaOmer, turning it from a day of mourning to a day of celebration.

The number of steps up the mountain from Clue #3 is the age that Rabbi Akiva began his Judaic studies.

Write the number on the answer key below.

Clue #4

The second rabbi associated with Lag BaOmer is Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai who also goes by the nickname, Rashbi. There is a tradition that Rashbi died on Lag BaOmer and his life is celebrated on this day. He is buried in Israel on Mt. Meron and many people go to visit his grave on Lag BaOmer. This is also why our Lag BaOmer scavenger hunt is taking us on a climb up Mt. Meron.

But who was Rashbi? He had a very interesting life which is described in the Talmud.

Setting the stage:

Rashbi lived in the second century CE, during the time that the Romans ruled the Land of Israel. Life was very difficult for Jews living under Roman rule. The Romans did not allow Jews to observe their religion or to study Torah. Rashbi was one of the rabbis who defied the Romans and, according to the Talmud, he spoke out publicly against the Romans which resulted in a death sentence being imposed on him.

  • Read the story of what happened next.

    • Where did Rashbi and his son hide?

    • How long did they stay there? (Add together the length of time they were originally there and how long they were there the second time)

The number of years that Rashbi and his son stayed hidden is the number of steps up the mountain for Clue #4.

Write the number on the answer key below.

Clue #5

For the final clue, let’s look at Lag BaOmer customs. So far we have learned that the omer period was one of mourning, except for Lag BaOmer. We have also read about the two main personalities associated with Lag BaOmer - Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.

To learn about what we do on Lag BaOmer, we are going to look at the most important book of Jewish Law, the Shulchan Arukh. The Shulchan Arukh was composed in Tzfat, Israel in the 16th century by Rabbi Yosef Karo.

  • Do a topic search for “Lag BaOmer”.

  • Instead of looking at all of the results, we are only interested in the results from the Shulchan Arukh. To filter the results:

    • Click “Filter”

    • Type “Shulchan Arukh” into the search box under the word “Sources”. The filtered list will show only sources from the Shulchan Arukh.

    • Open the first source on the list.

  • Read the Lag BaOmer customs.

    • What can be done on Lag BaOmer that isn’t done on the rest of the days of the omer?

    • Is there only one custom or do different communities follow different customs?

  • The Shulchan Arukh is divided into “Simanim”. What is the number of the siman that discusses Lag BaOmer customs? This number is the number of steps up the mountain for Clue #5.

Write the number on the answer key below.

Answer Key - Climbing up Mt. Meron

Now that you have completed all five clues, the number of steps from each clue should be written on the chart.

Add up all of the numbers. Does it add up to 628? If so, you made it to the top of Mt. Meron! Enjoy the bonfire!

If not, go back and check your answers.

Clue #5 ____493____

Clue #4 ____13____

Clue #3 ____40____

Clue #2 ____33____

Clue #1 ____49____