Rising above the pitfalls of Lag B'Omer

Rabbi warns parents how to ensure that their children will avoid the traps of a night alone at the bonfire, and connect to the spiritual.

Rafael Levi,

Lag Ba'omer bonfire (file)
Lag Ba'omer bonfire (file)
Flash 90

Lag B'Omer, the day of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai's (Rasbhi) passing, starts on Wednesday night this year. It is an important holiday, but there are many problems that are liable to arise at the traditional large bonfires.

Rabbi Yonah Goodman used his weekly column in Arutz Sheva to expound upon the upcoming holiday, and said, "in some places, what happens in the small hours of the night next to the bonfires of our children is not educational and is not enlightening."

The rabbi warned parents to take heed and speak with their children about the educational aspect of Lag B'Omer.

"There is a need for parental guidance, with dialogue and listening, ahead of the sleepless night next to the bonfire," he said.

The rabbi urged parents to ask their children about where they gathered the boards and wooden pieces for their bonfire, to make sure they weren't "taken" from the local supermarket or the bonfire of another group, and also to ask who will be joining them at their bonfire and whether there are any children who are excluded from the bonfire.

Determining an end time for the bonfire is advisable according to Rabbi Goodman, while emphasizing there is no obligation to stay until the morning and to be the last one there.

He warned that for many elementary schoolchildren there are older children who accompany them as counselors, but at a certain point in the night they leave for their own bonfires and the young children remain without any supervision - a situation that can be avoided if the younger children head home.

Rabbi Goodman also emphasized the meaning of the bonfire, noting that in a generation in which there is often drinking and inappropriate jokes or music at the bonfires, parents must be sure to speak with their children about how to turn the special night into an enlightening experience.

"One of the difficulties is the social pressure," said the rabbi. "God willing our child will not lead silly and inappropriate acts, but the question is what will they do when someone else initiates it. Will they get up and leave? Will they lead different activities? It's worthwhile to talk with him about that - in a pleasant manner - in advance."

The rabbi concluded by noting that Lag B'Omer is not an excuse to stay awake all night without the presence of an adult, but rather a day with deep spiritual meaning to which children can learn to connect.