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Lag Ba'Omer

a) Haircut

Regarding haircuts on Lag Ba’Omer, two customs exist in Morocco. The prevalent one, as many Sages write, is to get one’s hair cut and shave on Lag Ba’Omer itself (the thirty-third day of the ‘Omer), unlike what Maran rules to wait until the next day (the thirty-fourth day). (1) However, a second custom follows the opinion of some 'Hakhamim who rule like Maran that one should wait until the thirty-fourth day of the ‘Omer to cut one’s hair. (2) Each person should follow the custom of his family or city. Pious individuals follow the instructions of Arizal and do not have their hair cut until ‘Ereb Shabu’ot. (3)

b) Haircut on ‘Ereb Shabat when Falls on Sunday

For those with the custom to get one’s hair cut or shave on Lag Ba’Omer, when it falls on a Sunday, the custom is to cut one’s hair on the preceding Friday in honor of Shabat. (4)

c) The Night of

The night of Lag Ba’Omer is the hiloula of Ribi Shim’on Bar Yo'hai zy”‘a. Candles made from olive oil and water are lit in the synagogues and houses in honor of the Sadik, especially by people of the 'Hebrat Gomlé 'Hasadim (Society of Good Deeds), whose name is derived from Ribi Shim’on Bar Yo'hai. (5) Many read the Idera Raba and Idera Zutra portions of the Zohar. Some divide them into sections to be read by everyone. Others stay up the entire night reading the Zohar and its tikunim. (6)

~Hareré Kodesh~

(1) This follows the ruling of Rema (493:2). Peri 'Hadash (§493) expresses wonder at those who wait until the thirty-fourth day of the ‘Omer to have their hair cut, as celebrations already take place on the thirty-third day. Additionally, Ribi Ya’akob Raka'h (Peri ‘Es Hadar) writes that the custom of Libya and Tunisia is to shave on the thirty-third day. See Ribi David ‘Obadia (Nahagu Ha’Am, Pesa'h, §48) who confirms that this is the custom of the populace. However, he would tell those who asked him to wait until the thirty-fourth day. See Ribi Yosef Benaim (Noheg Be'Hokhma, p. 49) and Ribi Shelomo ibn Danan s”t (Magen Abot, p. 431, §20) who say this is the custom of Fes and the general Moroccan custom as well. Ribi Yehoshu’a Maman s”t (‘Emek Yehoshu’a as quoted by Magen Abot, p. 423, §9) attests to this being the custom of Meknes. VeZot LiYhuda (§90) by Ribi Yehuda Toledano (Meknes, b. 1780, known as Ribi HaDos) writes that this is the custom and adds that when the thirty-third day falls on Sunday, the custom is to shave and cut one’s hair on Friday in honor of Shabat. Ribi Kalfon HaKohen from Tunisia in Sho-el VeNishal corroborates this, as does Ribi Barukh Esebag in Min'hat Moshé (Sefirat Ha’Omer). The Egyptian custom follows the thirty-third, as per Ribi Refael Aharon Ben Shim’on in Nehar Misrayim (§33a), based on the writings of Ribi Ya’akob Ćastro (Maharikas, c. 1500s) in his sefer ‘Erekh Le'hem (§98) and Aholé Ya’akob

(2) This is the ruling of Maran (493:2). Leket HaKema'h (§30, Ribi 'Hayim Messas) and Kisur Shul'han ‘Arukh (Toledano, §441:5) attest to this being the custom. It is further confirmed as the custom of Meknes, Marrakech, and of Spanish Morocco by Ribi Abraham ‘Amar s”t (Magen Abot, p. 411, §493), Ribi David Saba'h s”t (ibid., p. 433, §33), and Ribi Ya’akob Benaim s”t (ibid., p. 427, §69) and Ribi ‘Amram Assayag s”t, respectively.

(3) Heard by Ribi Mordekhai Lebhar s”t from Ribi Yehoshu’a Maman s”t and Ribi ‘Amram Assayag s”t. See also Tebuot Shemesh (§56, p. 108). 

(4) The reason is out of respect for Shabat, which takes precedence in this case over the stringencies of the ‘Omer. See Rema (493:2) and Ribi Yosef Benaim (Noheg Be'Hokhma, p. 49) who also quotes Ribi Aharon Botbol who confirms this custom. He also reports that once, a 'Hakham said that in this scenario the custom is to wait until the actual thirty-third day and Ribi Botbol called him a liar. As for the practice of shaving every Friday during the ‘Omer, the custom nowadays is to be strict and forbid this; see Ribi Yehoshu’a Maman (‘Emek Yehoshu’a, vol. 6, §33). Ribi Yehuda Toledano (ibid.) writes this in the name of Maharikas (ibid.).

(5) See Noheg Be'Hokhma (p. 54). Oil is specifically used because in Hebrew, “SheMeN” forms the acronym “Shabat Mila Nida,” the three misvot through which Ribi Shim’on Bar Yo'hai zy”‘a was able to nullify the evil Emperor Hadrian’s decrees. Regarding the custom to light bonfires on Lag Ba’Omer, see VaYomer Yehuda (vol. 2, p. 112) by Ribi Yehuda Cabessa s”t, who lists seven reasons for this practice.

(6) The day of his hiloula is a great day in the Heavens. The kabalist, Ribi Shim’on Labi (1500s, Spain-Tripoli, Libya), wrote the famous piyut Bar Yo'hai in honor of Ribi Shim’on Bar Yo'hai zy”‘a.

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