b'JEWISH CALENDAR COMPANIONOrthodox Jews danceat the annual 24 hours hillulah of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, in Meron, Israel, on Lag BaOmer.today, and it is from there that the Chabad movement and also Kabbalah finds its school of philosophy. The Zohar was first seen in Spain in the 13th century. It was published by the Jewish author Moses de Len, who said the work came from Shimon bar Yochai. Supposedly, he wrote it during the Roman persecution of the second century, when myth states that he hid in a cave for 13 years, studied Torah and received inspiration from the Prophet Elijah to write the Zohar. Incidentally, bar Yochai was one of Akivas five students alive after the plague, alongside Rabbi Meir; Rabbi Yehuda; Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Nechemiah. It is in bar Yochais honour that today, we light bonfires on Lag BOmer, symbolising his wisdom as a light. Also, some people use the day to travel to his tomb in northern Israeli, in a town called Meron. We cannot have weddings and parties, haircuts or listen to music during the Omer, but all of these restrictions are suspended on Lag BOmer, and many Orthodox Jews plan celebrations around it. From Lag BOmer until the rest of the Omer is over, customs vary, and Sephardim and Ashkenazim observe different traditions during the second half. In part, this is to do with other tragedies that afflicted their communities throughout the Omer in various years, such as the Chmielnicki massacres in the 17th century and particular Holocaust incidents. The Ashkenazim who have a history of sad events in the latter half of the Omer thus mourn more fully. Lag BOmer itself is an easy and happy festival to celebratejust remember to start counting after Pesach next year!53'