This past Thursday, several MTA junior and senior classes were privileged to spend time with Rav Moshe Tzvi Weinberg, BMP Mashgiach Ruchani at Yeshiva University. The talmidim sang songs and heard beautiful divrei Torah delivered by Rav Weinberg in honor of Lag B’Omer. Rav Weinberg noted that many people view Lag B’Omer simply as “the day the beard comes off,” or just a day to commemorate the yahrtzeit of Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai. Rav Weinberg, however, wished to share some additional perspectives and a deeper meaning of Lag B’Omer.
He explained that Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai, known as the Rashbi, revolutionized the world in terms of talmud Torah and an individual’s personal connection to Hashem. He provided a way for man to use other people in order to connect to Hashem, and to use his physical being to connect to his spiritual soul. This is an essential message of kabbalah and the mystical Zohar, which tradition ascribes to him.
Rav Weinberg further explained the personality of the Rashbi. All in all, the Rashbi was “a man of Shabbos.” He honored and yearned for Shabbos. In a kabbalistic sense, the Rashbi described what the purpose of Shabbos is, as recorded in the Gemara Maseches Shabbos on daf 33: He explained how Shabbos is the central point of one’s week, and is the aspect of our lives that gives us strength to work during the week. Shabbos is one of the methods that we use to express our emunah in Hashem. The Rashbi couldn’t comprehend what “chol” meant—how can one think of a life without Shabbos?
Finally, Rav Weinberg explained the uniqueness of the Rashbi. If one goes to the famous rabbi’s gravesite in Meron on Lag B’Omer, one will see and meet all different types of Jews. And the Rashbi, namely, connected to every type of Jew. The Rashbi harnessed the main facet of Judaism that is rooted in every Jew—no matter what background—the neshamah. Since every Jew has a neshamah, by fueling the neshamah with songs, spirituality, and meaning, one is able to connect to fellow Jews, to Hashem and especially to one’s inner self on a much deeper level than ever anticipated. Indeed, Rav Moshe Tzvi’s message resounded deeply with the MTA boys, and gave them a greater understanding of the beauty and meaning of Lag B’Omer.