Why is Lag B'Omer a day of celebration?

The Gemara in Yevamot 62b explains that during Sefirat HaOmer (the 49 days between Pesach and Shavuot) 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva died since they didn’t treat each other with proper respect. During Sefirat HaOmer mourning is observed. Weddings, haircuts and live music are prohibited.

Rabbi Menachem HaMeiri explains that their deaths ceased on Lag B’Omer (the 33rd day of the counting of the omer). For this reason we refrain from fasting on this day.

The Rama rules that there is an increase of joy on Lag B’Omer and Tachnun is not recited.

What is the real cause for celebration on Lag B’Omer?

Even after the deaths of 24,000 students, Rabbi Akiva did not give up hope. He continued to teach Torah. According to the Pri Chadash, on Lag B’Omer Rabbi Akiva began to teach the Rabbis in the south: Rabbi Meir, Rabbi Yehuda, Rabbi Yossi, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and Rabbi Elazar ben Shamua. These were the Rabbis who preserved Torah during that time.

We learn from Rabbi Akiva never to give up, no matter how difficult things may get.

As reported on Arutz Sheva, in March 2007, David Hatuel, whose wife and four children were murdered in a 2004 terrorist attack, welcomed a daughter to the world. Hatuel’s first wife, Tali, was murdered while driving near her home in Gush Katif. The couple’s four daughters, ranging in age from two to eleven years old, were killed as well. Tali was eight months pregnant with the Hatuel’s first son at the time of the attack. She and her daughters were shot at point-blank range by Islamic Jihad terrorists, who launched their attack from abandoned buildings near the road which the Israeli Supreme Court had forbidden the army to remove.

After mourning his family, David Hatuel explained that he had two options: to fall and let the tragedy destroy him, or to choose life.

Choose life and be careful with your bonfires.