24,000 of Rabbi Akiva's students died since 'lo nahagu kavod zeh lazeh' (yevamos 62b); they did not behave respectfully to one another. How could this be - Rabbi Akiva was THE person who stressed va'havta lereacha kamocha [loving jews] and must have given many shiurim on that topic; how could they not have internalised this message? An answer is that deep down, they did have respect for one another. The problem was that they did not act according to this mutual repsect; they ignored it and instead acted without regard for each other. This is why the gemarra's expression is 'shelo NAHAGU (act) kavod zeh lazeh;' they did have respect for each other - they just did not act it out. This plague ended at Lag B'omer. What changed? The Mishna (avos 2;13) reports that the best answer to Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai's challange to find the best path was that of Rabbi Elazar ben Arach. He said 'to have a good heart' (lev tov) - for once one's heart and internal world is good, mitzvos will follow (see mesillas yesharim end of perek 16). The words 'lev tov' have the gematria of 49 - the same as the days of the Omer; Lev is 32 and Tov is 17. Lag B'omer comes in the middle of those two words - it is the 33rd day. Thus, it is the day when we start managing to achieve a good heart. And since the sin of the students of Rabbi Akiva was that they disconnected their feelings from their actions, the correction was to readdress the balace and ensure that the feelings were pure and led to positive and constructive actions. This was Lag B'omer, when they began to regain their Lev Tov.

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