Jewish Knowledge A-Z Ltr. L

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Lag Ba-omer

Thirty-third day of the Omer, Lyar 18, observed as the Scholar's Feast. Traditionally a festival for children, and observed in memory of the ending of a plague amongst the students of Akiba. Actually by amongst the students of Akiba. Actually by its symbolism, the use of bows and arrows, a reminiscence of the Bar Kokba war.


Twelfth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Its numerical value is 30.


The 36 saints, whose piety sustains the world. This folklore is traced back, by gematria, to Talmudic passages. The piety of the 36 has the supreme quality of being obscured from view and unknown to the saint's neighbors. The Lamed-Waw saint loses his power and usefulness when his saintliness is detected. He must earn his living by manual labor.

Lamp, Perpetual

"Ner Tamid"; every Jewish house of worship has a perpetual light projecting over the front of the ark. This is a custom continuing from Temple days, for the Temple had a light which was not permitted to go out. According to tradition, the light symbolizes the invisible presence of the Eternal, and its ignition is an important ceremony in the dedication of a synagogue. The perpetual lamp is also regarded as a memorial for the unmourned dead, all those for whom no jahrzeit light is lit.

Lamp, Sabbath

A many branched, wick lamp, which was formerly lit in honor of the Sabbath. The custom now fallen into disuse is of Talmudic origin, for the character of the oil and the materials of the wick are discussed at length in a tractate. The greeting of the Sabbath by the lighting of candles, is, however, still in vogue.


Though this title is still sometimes applied to some rabbi who has more than local influence in central Europe, the legal implications of the title ceased midway in the last century. Originally it was a legal technical office. The landesrabbi was spiritual head of a province or district, and supervisor of the taxes levied on the Jews. The emancipation of 1848 practically put an end to the office.


Vessel used for ritual ablutions. The use of the laver in the ablutions of the Kohanim prior to reciting the Priestly Blessing is a continuation of temple ceremonial and of type of utensil.

Law, Codification and Codes

Jewish law, starting from the period of the Sanhedrin, has in the eyes of its teachers represented an ever-expanding and living code, modified in accordance with experience and the development of life, but basically it is an organic living and continuing law for Israel. The codification of the mass of decisions began with the Mishnah but was rendered more discursive by the methods of the two Talmuds. The recodification following the close of the Talmuds was undertaken by the Saboraim, and was to an extent simplified in the "Halakot Gedolot."

The codification in the Middle Ages was successively attempted by Saadia in his "Book of Legacies," in Hai's "Compendium on the Oath," by Alfasi, and Judah b. Barzillai, who preceded Maimonides, "Mishnah Torah," which may be regarded as the greatest contribution to the codification of all that had appeared before. He was followed by Abraham B. Isaac of Narbonne, Eliezer B. Nathan, Moses B. Jacob of Coucy. Their work or much of it was revised by Isaac B. Moses in the "Or Zarua," and still more intensely by Jacob B. Asher in the "Tur." The great popular simplification which followed was Caro's "Shulchan Aruch." Many minor recodification of parts of the old code have since been attempted.

Law, Reading From The

Josephus relates that Moses introduced the custom of reading portions of the Pentateuch, and Philo alludes to the custom, which is still part of the orthodox liturgy. The origin of supplementing the reading from the law with a selection from the prophets is not known. It is presumed that it arose during the pre-Maccabean persecution when the reading of the law was forbidden, and appropriate quotations from the prophets were introduced as a substitute.


The eating of leavened dough, or any food made of the five cereals which ferment was forbidden on the Passover, in the Pentateuch. The injunction was broadened so that the use of utensils which had been used for leavened food and even the possession of leaven in any form were forbidden.

Le-David Baruk

Superscription of Ps. cxliv., and therefore the popular name of that hymn which is recited on Saturday evenings.

Lekah Dodi

Next to Adon Olam probably the most popular hymn in the Jewish liturgy. it is sung on Friday evening to an ancient Moorish melody. The text was written by Solomon ha-Levi Alkabiz, whose acrostic is signed in the first eight verses.

Lost Books

The Scriptures mention a number of books and written records, none of which have ever been seen. Josephus, too, mentions some of which nothing is known. Following is a list of the presumably important works to the time of Josephus which are amongst the lost Jewish books.

"Baruch's Biography of Jeremiah"; "Temple Records"; "Book of the Prophet Nathan and the Seer Gad" (I Chron. xxix. 29); "Words of Nathan the Prophet" and the "Prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite," and "The Vision of Iddo the Seer" (II Chron. ix. 29)"Book of the Acts of Solomon," "Chronicles of the Kings of Israel," "Chronicles of the Kings of Judah," "Midrash of the Kings of Israel and Judah," "History of the Maccabean Struggle," by Cyrene of Jason, "History of the Jewish Kings by Justus, "History of the Jewish War," by Justus.


Palm branch used during the Feast of Tabernacles, together with the Etrog. The custom is traced to Lev. xxiii. 40.


Website: The History
Article Name: Jewish Knowledge A-Z  Ltr. L
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: From my collection of Books: The Encyclopedia of Jewish Knowledge In One Volume, Edited by Jacob De Haas; in collaboration with more than 150 scholars and specialists. Behrman's Jewish Book House New York, 1934.
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