Listening to music on Lag B’Omer
Shalom and thank you for your question. I apologize that I only saw this question when it was no longer relevant for this year. Nevertheless the answer is not only relevant for next year but for understanding many aspects of Judaism.
There is a Jewish calendar, based on the instructions that the Jewish people received from G-d in the Torah, which is comprised of the Written Law, (the Five Books of Moses, writings of the Prophets, Psalms and more), and the Oral Law, (Talmud, certain commentaries and more).
According to the Jewish calendar, the Jewish ‘day’ begins after sunset the night before. Thus Shabbat begins on Friday evening and ends at nightfall on Saturday. Sunday begins on Saturday evening and after nightfall on Sunday evening it is the Jewish second day of the week. It is true that there are certain commandments on certain festivals which are relevant only during the daytime, such as blessing the Four Kinds on the festival of Sukkot, or blowing the Shofar on Rosh haShanah, however this is not the case with the matter of joy. With regard to the pilgrimage festivals it says “And you shall rejoice on your festival…” (Deuteronomy 16:14), but no mention is made of a time limit to the joy.
Lag B’Omer is a Rabbinically ordained festival, but regarding music on Lag B’Omer, the entire 24 hours of the day are given over to rejoicing, since it was the will of the holy Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (known as Rashbi) that we should rejoice on that day. Kabbalah teaches us that on the day of the passing of a Tzaddik, all the Torah that he learned in his physical life becomes elevated, it influences the world even more than during the Tzaddik’s life-time. On the day of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai’s passing, he revealed great spiritual secrets. The spiritual light caused by this shines every year on Lag B’Omer and perhaps this is why Jews from all walks of life celebrate that day, and stories abound regarding salvations that people experienced by praying at the Rashbi’s burial site in the holy city of Meron in Israel.
One such story took place during the era of the Israeli War of Independence. In the group of soldiers fighting in the Lechi, against the British occupation and to defend the Jews living in Israel as well as the Jewish Holocaust survivors who were arriving from the blood-soaked shores of Europe from the Arabs, there was a man named Tzvi Greenwald, (later to become a well-known educator), and a friend called Yaakov (Jacob). Yaakov was unfortunately shot in the back by an Arab, and suffered spinal damage to the point where he became totally immobile, other than his face. He was able to see, hear and speak, but not move his limbs at all. During the weeks and months following his injury, he lay in hospital becoming more and more depressed. Tzvi Greenwald and another friend visited him every few days, but didn’t know how to help him, beyond trying to tell him stories and cheer him up. The day before Lag B’Omer, Yaakov suddenly voiced a request from his friends who had come to visit. He begged them to take him to Meron so that he could be there on the special day of Lag B’Omer. The next day, Tzvi and his friend came to the hospital, told the nurses that they were taking Yaakov outside to enjoy the fresh air, and loaded him onto a mattress in the back of their truck. They laid Yaakov on the mattress near the grave of Rabbi Shimon, leaving food for him. They explained that they had to leave to go on a mission, but they would come back for him in the morning. There were other people in the area who came to celebrate Lag B’Omer, and they could help him with his needs. Tzvi and his friend left, and Yaakov watched the people make a bonfire and dance around it. These days thousands of people come to celebrate at the Rashbi’s burial site in Meron, but back then during the era of the fledgling state there were only a few. The next day, Tzvi and his friend returned and looked for Yaakov, and were shocked that he was not there, on his mattress! Tzvi ran around looking for him, and was absolutely shocked and amazed to find Yaakov walking around! “What happened?” he asked “they said you would never walk again!” Yaakov explained that during the night, watching all the joy going on around him, he couldn’t bring himself to be happy in his situation, so he cried out in prayer, that the merit of Rabbi Shimon save him from his awful predicament, he recalled how he survived the Nazi torture with G-d’s help, how he lost his entire family and was the sole survivor, how he boarded a ship for Israel (which could have been one of those ships that the British sank and didn’t allow to reach the shores of Israel,) and after all that was enlisted to fight. Then he was injured so cruelly in his spine. He begged Rabbi Shimon to beg G-d to give him his (healthy) life back! After that he cried and cried, and eventually as he lay there, he began to feel a tingling sensation in his fingers and toes, which spread to the rest of his limbs. He decided to try getting up and walking, and lo and behold, it worked!!
Yaakov got married thank G-d, and raised a family, they lived in Tochelet, a village next to Kfar Chabad, where Rabbi Greenwald lived, and they remained close friends.
So next Lag B’Omer by all means, don’t hold yourself back from listening to music, singing and dancing in honor of the righteous Rabbi Shimon, who made the inner dimensions of Torah accessible to us! When the Moshiach comes hopefully very very soon, we will all be able to dance with Rabbi Shimon.