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.


  1. Wow. Thank you for putting my sentiment into words. Even not in Meron it is truly difficult to see how this hype and pyromania affects the children who are in danger much of the time as the meduras may spread and burn out of control. It is too much for my nerves. It seems completely, utterly pointless to just collect sticks for a month and burn them. Maybe its me. Everything just gets stranger by the minute. Leah R

  2. Think everything is more pronounced of late because life has become more chaotic than ever before and maybe these people are looking to get away and let go of so much inner frustrations; and being that it is a respite during the restrictive days of the Omer, it's a good excuse to take an outing. The 'fires' should be done away with! The world has changed so much already,

    Regarding not having larger groups of people congregate outside the holy city of Yerushalayim reminds me of a story of a relative of mine. A visitor came to visit this relative who lives in Yerushalayim and who showed the visitor around the city and when the visitor said she will be leaving for TelAviv the next day, my relative said 'she had never been to Tel Aviv' and the visitor was perplexed and said it's only 3/4 of an hour away. My relative was born there and is a middle aged woman and said something which is hard to forget. 'Why should I even want to leave the City for anything when I have the zechut of having been born here and living here in our holy Yerushalayim. There is no place else which has any interest for me.' She is chareidi.

    1. Although I did not have the merit to be born there, I feel the same way. The last time I was in Tel Aviv was about 2011. And before that 1997. Yerushalayim has everything I need or want. No reason to go anywhere else.

      I did have the merit, for awhile of living in Yerushalayim for 12 years. When finances finally forced me out. I came to a place where I can still see her on top of the mountains. That's as far away as I can go and still survive it.

  3. Even the parties, occasions and celebrations have all lost their taste and joy in our generation. Me'z is not saying that people are not allowed to dance or sing or have fun, but when our generation parties, it is not for the sake of heaven. It is for the sake of being drunken stupors and today's dances are like the dance of the dead. Everything in our generation is parties and jokes... Woe to us.

  4. The whole thing is an indulgence, an excuse for acting like a wild animal. In America we didn't do this. There was a local fire with the fire truck next to it. In Israel it's a wild pagan dance.

  5. I have to agree with you. The frenzy that went on was too much. I read somewhere that today's Chassidim plus need this extreme religious expressions because of the 'cloistered affect' on their lives. The modern orthodox for a different reason, as it releases their fervor. It doesn't seem in the spirit of real Torah Judaism to me. Yes, I think one needs to have zreizus in performing Halachos, but what goes on in Meron is questionable. I have not read one of our Gedolim come out praising them. On the contrary, I understand they prefer their followers NOT go to Meron and Uman.

  6. WHAT'S TO LOVE about LAG BAOMER CELEBPATIONS dear Devash , nachon, but nothing is perfect before the geoulah. See it differently : this huge "wild" gathering seals the victory of the Baalei Teshuvah movement against secular zionism and metaken-corrects the hilul Hashem of the secular Yom"Atzmaut" two weeks ago. AM iSRAEL CHAI.

    1. Sorry, Sarah, but your personal opinion, lacking Torah sources, does not measure up to the Chatam Sofer and the gedolei hador.

  7. Since we know there are no coincidences, it is amazing that on the day of Lag B'Omer, the night after Meron Bonfires, there are several, that is more than 4 fires in Yerushalayim, threatening evacuations: Gilo, Ramot, Romeima, Jerusalem Forest, Mir Yeshiva in Meah Shearim; three of which are out of control! Connect the Dots on this!!

  8. Add to that: Fires Raging Out of Control in Mevasseret, Har Choma and Abu Gosh Areas [UPDATED 3:12PM IL

  9. Let party poopers stay home.