Two Days One Lesson
The importance of Torah study to the security and prosperity of the Jewish People finds eloquent expression in two consecutive days this week. On Shabbat we read in the weekly portion that "If you shall follow My commandments the Land will give forth its bounty and you shall dwell securely in your Land." (Vayikra 26:3-5). Rashi cites the explanation of our Sages that "follow My commandments" means toiling in the study of Torah.
The day before Shabbat this year is LaG BOmer, the 33rd day of counting the days and weeks between the second day of Pesach (when an Omer offering was made in the Beit Hamikdash) and the Festival of Shavuot. This is somewhat of a festive day because tradition has it that on this day almost two millennia ago there came to an end the plague which claimed the lives of the 24,000 disciples of Rabbi Akiva. The loss of these Torah scholars is described by the Talmud as "desolation of the world", a situation which existed until Rabbi Akiva rebuilt the Torah world through new disciples. The mourning practiced by Jews during this period of the year is an expression of the sense of spiritual desolation the Jewish People sensed when so many scholars were taken from them.
The lesson which emerges from these two days is that it is only the study of Torah and the maintenance of Torah scholars which can protect Israel forever.