25 May 2016

What's Not to Love About Lag Ba'Omer Celebrations?

18 Iyyar 5776
33 Days of the Omer
(4 Weeks and 5 Days)
Hod sh'be'Hod

As someone who could never really get into the whole public display at Lag Ba'Omer, it was gratifying to read the following...

...Yes, it is that time of the year again. Lag Ba’omer is ... here. And with it, all the hype and solicitations for trips to Meron, Chai Rotel Mashkeh donations, upsherin, bonfires, and the like.

So it is time to review what our holy Ashkenazic mesorah is about relatively recent Lag Ba’omer innovations, to avert confusion be”H, and help save people from getting swept away by all the hype generated by those with stakes in promoting such a holiday.

As the חתם סופר [Chatam Sofer] famously wrote in a teshuvoh (יורה דעה רלג, last column on bottom left of page linked to), we do not go along with the making of a new Yom Tov not mentioned in Shas and poskim. We don’t go along with making a holiday of the day a tzaddik passed away (aka hillulah), when the gemara mentions such a day as a day of fasting. In the mesorah of Ashkenaz that is called a yohrzeit, and is a day of fasting and introspection. We don’t make a small village in northern Eretz Yisroel the focus of a giant pilgrimage, more than ירושלים עיה”ק [Yerushalayim Ir HaKodesh].

...What many people don’t realize with all the Meron hype, is that many gedolim, and I am not just talking about גדולי אשכנז, but also great Chassidishe Rebbes and Sepharadic gedolim, deliberately do not participate in this event.

Rav Schach זצ”ל told his talmidim not to go to Meron (hat tip to Rafi). להבדיל בחל”ח, Rav Elyashiv שליט”א, as of a few years ago, had never gone to Meron. He stated, as was reported in the Jerusalem Post, that he feels closer to רשב”י learning a blatt gemara.

If the Chasam Sofer voiced reservations about the Meron pilgrimage close to two hundred years ago, when the attendance there was much smaller than it is nowadays, would his reservations not be much greater today? (Source)

The part I underlined above really spoke to me. It's exactly how I felt when I read this...

1000s Unable to Get Bus Tickets to Meron for Lag B’Omer

...Chairman of the Knesset Ombudsman Committee MK Yisrael Eichler is calling on the Transportation Ministry to take the necessary steps to make additional buses available. Eichler on Tuesday evening explained that in some chareidi areas, ticket sales have halted as all the available buses are full.

Eichler maintains that instead of hiring buses from private companies as was promised would be the case, the sale of tickets has stopped in some areas and people are told there is no room for this year’s trip to Meron.

After consulting with Israel Police and private bus companies, Eichler has learned that from a technical standpoint, there is no reason additional private buses cannot be charted to resume the sale of tickets.

I was in Yerushalayim today and it hurt me to see such large throngs of people in the streets and on the sides of the road preparing to leave Holy Yerushalayim to travel to Meron. I've never seen this kind of crowd preparing to go to the Kotel Hama'aravi in the same numbers.