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There are several different opinions about when the students of Rabbi Akiva died, and which days we mourn for them.

Sefer HaToda'ah quotes the Maharil, who says that the students of Rabbi Akiva died throughout the 49 days of the Omer, but did not die on days during the "Holiday Days" of the Omer. These days are:

  • The 7 days of Pesach
  • 3 Days of Rosh Chodesh
  • 7 Shabbatot

If you add them up, there are 17 days. If you take away 17 days from 49, you're left with 32 days during which the students died. That's why, according to the Maharil, we celebrate Lag Ba'Omer on the 33rd day, to commemorate that the students only died for 32 days, even if they may have died on Lag Ba'Omer itself.

However, there seems to be a problem with this calculation. One of the days of Shabbat would have also been one of the days of Pesach. If so, the students would have died on 33 of the days, not 32. If so, according to the Maharil, shouldn't we celebrate on the 34th day of the Omer, not the 33rd?


On further thought, I think I have more insight into the Maharil. The Talmud (Yevamot 62B) says that the students of R' Akiva died between Pesach and Shavuot. It does not say that they died during Sefirat Ha'Omer (although, according to the Maharil, this is what practically happened, since no one died the whole of Pesach). This is why the Maharil counts all 7 days of Pesach as days when no one died, even though it was part of the time of their dying.

This strengthens the question I have above, since one of the 7 days of Pesach must be Shabbat.

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Do you know where in the Maharil this is found? EDIT: It's here hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=44458&st=&pgnum=53 –  Double AA Apr 28 '13 at 4:31
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Unless the first day of Pesach was Shabbat... –  jake Apr 28 '13 at 4:31
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One of the days of Rosh Chodesh could also be on Shabbat. I guess he assumes we don't worry about double counting. –  Double AA Apr 28 '13 at 5:30
    
@jake, We start from the second day of pesach counting the seven days of pesach. –  user2709 Apr 28 '13 at 13:57
    
@shulem, That was my point. That if the first day of Pesach was Shabbat, that the other seven shabbatot would be not included in the Pesach count. But that was before I realized that we're the eighth day of Pesach as well, in which case we anyways have a problem. –  jake Apr 28 '13 at 14:54

1 Answer 1

The maharil starts off saying days when no tachnun is said. The Mishna Berurah in Biur Halacha (493:3) also quotes this reason. But counts seven days of pesach although they were in Israel and only started on the second day when we say the omer. And only six shabosos. Three days of rosh chodesh which adds up to 16 which leaves 33 days. Most likely there is a mistake in the maharil.

The bach really asks your question and gives the above answer although not mentioning the maharil. But the kaf hachaim (493:24) brings the bach and says he is referring to the maharil. It appears from the kaf hachaim that he means there is a mistake in the maharil.

If so, why do we celebrate on the 33rd, of the Omer, and not the 34th? Because of the principle that, when it comes certain things (such as certain aspects of mourning), part of the day is like the whole day. (according to this answer, the mourning is only over after daybreak of the 33rd day of the Omer, not the night before).

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But counts seven days of pesach although they were in Israel and only started on the second day when we say the omer. Why not six days since they only keep seven days in Israel? –  user2709 Apr 28 '13 at 16:23
    
The Mishna Berurah is explaining why some have the custom to only mourn until Lag Ba'Omer. –  Menachem Apr 28 '13 at 23:42
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It's hard to say it's a typo in the Maharil, because the Maharil says פשו להו ל"ב, נמצא דלא מתו רק ל"ב ימים, לכן כשכלו אותן ל"ב ימים שמתו עושין למחרתן שמחה לזכר. So you have to not only adjust the ב to a ג but also deal with the language of למחרתן. –  Double AA Apr 29 '13 at 0:10
    
The Kaf HaChaim claims that the Bach is saying the same thing as the Maharil, but as @DoubleAA pointed out, it is difficult to say that. There appears to be a Nafka Minah between the two. That being whether one has to be in mourning the night of Lag Ba'Omer. According to the Bach/MB, yes (since Lag Ba'Omer itself is still a day of mourning, but one does not have to mourn the whole day). According to the Maharil, no (since he says that Lag BaOmer is the day after the dying stopped). –  Menachem Apr 29 '13 at 3:04
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@shulem Yes I do.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ How many times does Tosfot reject Rashi because of a certain reason, and then 600 years later the Pnei Yehoshua gives an answer for Rashi? Don't tell me no answer is possible because the Bach gave up. –  Double AA Apr 29 '13 at 4:31

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