When I was a little girl in first grade, I hated school.
Every day I cried.
Whenever I cried the teacher would bring a plant to my desk and say, "Don't waste your tears. Water the plant."
Oh, how I hated that!
Because today I finally discovered just how wise that teacher was.
Today is the beautiful convergence of Mother's Day and Lag B'Omer, a very powerful Jewish holiday. Hmmm... I wondered. Since nothing is random coincidence, what special message is there in this combination of joyful events?
"I just heard something about Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai's mother last night. Try researching that connection," suggested my husband when I asked him.
So I did... and WOW! What a story!
Lag B'Omer is the 33rd day of the Counting of the Omer. Each night, we count the Omer, from the 2nd night of Pesach to Shavuous, the holiday on which we celebrate that G-d gave the Torah to the Jewish people. In the process we are refining our character traits to prepare ourselves to receive the holy Torah anew each year.
On Lag B'Omer we celebrate the ending of a terrible plague during the lifetime of our great sage Rabbi Akiva. We also celebrate the anniversary of the passing of the saintly scholar of the Mishnah, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, the author of the Zohar, the main mystical text of Jewish mysticism.
Why would we celebrate the passing of a great sage?
Shouldn't we be sad?
And what do all of these seemingly random things have to do with each other and us?
The Chassidic masters explain that the final day of our lives marks the culmination of all of our good deeds. On Lag B'Omer, we celebrate Rabbi Shimon's life and the tremendous revelation of the secrets of the Torah that he gave us.
So what about his mother?
You see, Rabbi Shimon's mother was barren.
Many years passed and she could not have children.
She fasted and prayed intensely, pouring out her tears for children.
She also gave charity generously and looked for every opportunity to do good deeds and acts of kindness.
On the night of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, her husband Yochai had a strange dream.
He saw himself standing in a forest filled with thousands of trees.
Some were green and bore fruits while others were dry, brown and barren.
He was leaning against a tree that was dry and brown.
Yochai looked up and saw an awe-inspiring man carrying a jug of water.
This man went through the forest, watering some of the dry trees while ignoring others. When he reached the brown tree on which Yochai was leaning, he drew forth a small glittering vessel and watered the tree.
Immediately, the tree grew to an immense height, blossomed, and bore fruit.
Yochai awoke from the dream with a heart full of joy.
A verse from Psalms sprang into his mind,
"Who makes the barren woman to dwell in her house as a joyful mother of children. Hallelujah!" (Psalms 113:9)
The couple went to the great sage, Rabbi Akiva to ask him the meaning of the dream.
He answered, "The trees in your dream, Yochai, represent women. The green trees are those who bear children, and the brown trees are those who are barren. Your wife Sarah is one of those who were destined to be barren. That was the tree you were leaning on.
The glittering vessel that you saw in your dream was made from her good deeds, and the water in the vessel was from the tears that she shed in prayer. These are what changed her destiny and made the tree grow to great heights and bear fruit.
Rabbi Akiva turned to Sarah and said: “This year you shall bear a child who will be as a light to Israel in his wisdom and his deeds.”
And that was Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.
So, my friend, that is the message of this joyful day celebrating mothers, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, and the end of pain and sufferering.
It will get better!
Keep doing acts of goodness and kindness.
It will be good!
And may we all shed tears of joy immediately to water the Garden of Eden, as we celebrate together the arrival of Moshiach NOW!
(story sourced from arachimusa.org)
The Artnotes at the top are a meditation starter from my book, "The Secret Art of Talking to G-d," (see below)