Believe it or not coloring eggs is a Jewish custom, though our color scheme doesn’t include pink, lilac or lime green. Lag B’Omer is the 33rd day of the Omer count between Passover and Shavuot. On L’ag B’Omer the fatal plague infecting Rabbi Akiva’s students ended. L’ag B’Omer is also the yahrzeit or anniversary of the death of Rabbi Akiva’s greatest student Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. This day is a holiday day because after his death, Rabbi Shimon’s soul rose toexquisitely sublime levels of holiness.
The midrash says that Rabbi Shimon’s righteousness sustained his whole generation to the point that a rainbow never appeared in the sky for all the years he lived.
The Torah tells us that a rainbow is a reminder of G-d’s promise not to destroy the world. When a rainbow appears, it is a sign that G-d needs to recall that promise because mankind hasn’t been behaving properly. But while Rabbi Shimon was alive, G-d never needed a reminder.
After his death, Jews tinted the shells of hard boiled eggs, the traditional mourner’s food, in colors to remember this. Their rainbow was relatively limited—the Jews used onion skins and tea grounds as their dye and the eggs were various shades of reddish brown.
Some Jews abandoned this custom because of its resemblance to Easter eggs. Easter has bad associations for Jews because so many pogroms and anti-Semitic attacks took place during this holiday. If your family doesn’t already follow this custom, you may want to think twice before adopting it.My Rabbi isn’t so sure that it is a good idea. But if you’re curious about how to dye eggs naturally, here’s how.
Hard boil eggs in the usual way. Put plenty of onion skins—red and brown and tea grounds into the cooking water. Eggs will take on a reddish-brown tint.