This is a minor Jewish holiday and not one of the big ones set by God. Just as Christians have Saints and Martyrs, so Jews have a few very famous respected Rabbi’s that they remember. Today Rabbi Akiba (רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא), is remembered he was a leading Jewish scholar and sage, of the latter part of the 1st century and beginning of the 2nd century, who was executed by the Romans. According to Jewish Scholars this is the day that a plague which had killed 24,000 of his followers ended. Over the centuries it has been celebrated as a special holiday for rabbinical students and was called "Scholar's Day". It was customary to rejoice on this day through outdoor sports and to light bonfires in the evening. Overall this is the period of the “Counting of the Omer” a semi-mourning period, but this day that is lifted, so there are, weddings, parties, music, and it is the day among Hassidim that 3-year-old boys be given their first haircuts.
But today I am using the Prayer for the Sick prayer pages. Our current plague - Covid is NOT OVER, people are going about their lives like it is, but 26 people died this week in New Zealand because of Covid. Thousands are still infected. If you can, you should still be wearing a mask everywhere you go. If you can’t wear a mask you should be limiting the places you go and how often you are out among others. I say this because many of us with pre-existing conditions who are still isolating could have psychological effects from being isolated for so long. But we need to be careful.
Many need community support or to help their community due to the severe weather events New Zealand is now enduring. But Covid seems to have been put on the back burner by most of the population - it is old news. But not to the families and loved ones of the 26 who died this week. Nor to the 11063 newly infected this week, the 265 hospitalised or the 8 in ICU. Our plague continues. We need to keep praying for the infected and all those suffering in the hospital. We need to pray for all those with Long Covid, survivors of this plague that are still enduring side effects from the damage done by the virus, side effects that may last for the rest of their lives unless they get a miracle.
Over 6 million people worldwide have died of Covid 19 so far, the number is still rising. Compared to other countries our total of 2762 is low, mainly thanks to the quick actions of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, or our total would be far, far higher. But people are still getting sick, people are still dying of this plague. As much as we want it to be over - it is not. So today let us pray for the sick, for our hospitals who really at this time are fighting a war, leaving them understaffed, and overwhelmed by the loss of so many and everyday risking their own lives to do their job.
Pray for those who have lost loved ones this week and over the last months when we have thought of other things - tired of the constant bad news brought by Covid. It is time to pray for them once more, and keep praying until Covid has its Lag BaOmer and is no more.