Daily Israel Report

Daytime Celebration on Mount Meron

Tens of thousands of Jews celebrated Lag BaOmer at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai on Mount Meron in the Upper Galilee.
By Elad Benari and Hezki Ezra
First Publish: 5/23/2011, 8:42 AM / Last Update: 5/23/2011, 10:11 PM

Hundreds of thousands of Jews took part on Sunday in the traditional Lag BaOmer celebrations at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai on Mount Meron in the Upper Galilee. People streamed to the site all through the day.

According to Jewish tradition, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai died on Lag BaOmer in the 2nd century C.E. and while the anniversary of the day of death of a person (yahrzeit) is traditionally a solemn day, Rabbi Shimon’s yahrzeit is celebrated with singing, dancing and feasting as he was a mystic whose soul went straight to the heavens . During these celebrations, Hassidic parents traditionally bring three-year-old sons, the age from which boys are expected to wear tzitzit (ritual fringes) and a kippah (skullcap), to be given their first haircuts - known as "chalaka" - as they begin to keep these commandments..

“We all go to the grave of Rabbi Shimon because we know that Rabbi Shimon was an brilliant man who defended the people of Israel, he was a righteous man and he was also extremely brave in the face of all our enemies,” said Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, rabbi of the city of Tzfat.

“We came here to pray not for our own private needs, but for the Prime Minister of Israel,” added Rabbi Eliyahu, who expressed his hopes that Prime Minister Netanyahu takes on the same bravery while in the United States that Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai had.

“We cannot give up on the people of Israel, on Israel’s Torah, and on the oath that G-d swore to the holy ancestors,” said the rabbi. “We’re here to pray for the people of Israel. Just as Rabbi Shimon threw away everything he had for the sake of the people of Israel, so are we.”