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      Samaria Celebrates Diplomatic Victory over Roman Empire

      “A huge Lag B’Omer bonfire in the heart of the Shomron recalls Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochai’s diplomatic victory over the Roman Empire.”
      By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
      First Publish: 5/22/2011, 7:52 AM / Last Update: 5/22/2011, 8:28 AM

      Flash 90

      A huge Saturday night Lag B’Omer bonfire in the heart of Samaria (Shomron) recalls Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochai’s diplomatic victory over the Roman Empire, said Shomron Regional Council head, Gershon Mesika. 

      Rabbi Shimon, the 2nd century mystic and sage, who died on Lag Ba'Omer,  is known by the acronym, Rashbi.

      The Talmud relates that the Rashbi said of the Romans, "Everything they built, they built for themselves: They built market places in order to place prostitutes there; bathhouses, in order to refresh themselves; bridges, in order to collect taxes." Rashbi was forced into hiding in a cave for 12 years after the Roman Empire heard of his statement and issued a death warrant against him.

      Mesika said, “Lag B’Omer, the holiday for the Rashbi, is the celebration that shows our pride. Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai stood against the Roman Empire and won. The fact that hundreds of Jews are celebrating Lag B’Omer here, when almost no one even remembers the Roman Empire, is the victory of Rashbi and of the People of Israel.

      "Today, we stand and will continue to stand strongly for the Torah and building of our land in the face of all challenges."

      Hundreds of residents and friends from Samaria (the Shomron) celebrated Lag B’Omer at the giant bonfire at Kfar Tapuach, co-sponsored by Chabad, the local community and the regional council.

      The bonfire was lit opposite the heart of Samaria and the Shechem Valley by Kfar Tapuach officials, community Rabbi Shimon Rosenzweig and Mesika.

      “The special relationship of thousands of years that  all sectors of the People of Israel have with Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai [Rashbi] is a connection that shows love of the Creator, "said Rabbi Rosenzweig. Traditionally, the songs sung at the Lag B'Omer fires that light up the Israeli skies on Lag B'Omer night, express the joy of the Jews at being G-d's Chosen People.

      Drawing an analogy with Kfar Tapuach, which literally means the “Apple Village,” he continued, “The teachings of Rashbi and the holy Zohar [kabbalistic commentary on the Pentateuch attributed to Rashbi] show that the secrets of the Torah are like an apple, which has contradictory sour and sweet flavors. The secrets of the Torah resolve apparent contradictions and show how the world is based on them.”

      Soldiers from the Shaked Battalion and the Givati Division, who are posted in the area, were hosted with a large barbecue.