Chief rabbis: 'Reduce the number of Lag Ba'omer bonfires'

'Obey the instructions of rescue forces and avoid lighting fires in dangerous places,' chief rabbis say, ahead of expected heat wave.

Hezki Baruch ,

Lag Ba'omer bonfire
Lag Ba'omer bonfire
Flash 90

The chief rabbis of Israel issued a joint call Tuesday to exercise caution while lighting Lag Ba’omer bonfires, especially in view of the expected weather this year, which could lead to the loss of control over the fires.

Rabbis Yitzchak Yosef and David Lau said, "We must act in accordance with the laws of the holy Torah, at the head of which is ‘Venishmartem me’od lenafshoteichem’ [‘You shall be very careful for your souls’] while obeying the instructions of rescue forces and avoiding fires in places of danger. Be careful on the severe prohibition of using dangerous incendiary materials which could endanger the lives of the public that participates in the many fires."

In addition, the chief rabbis warned that this year, due to the heat expected on Lag Ba'omer, one must take extra care with respect to the size and location of the bonfires. "This year in particular, according to the forecast, it will be very hot, and in that sort of weather the concerns are greater. It is worthy to reduce the number and size of bonfires. There is no need to make large fires that are dangerous, and it is preferable to unite around a few fires. It should be remembered that the fire is not the purpose of the day, but the idea is to increase adherence to the teachings of Rashbi [Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai].”

At the end of their joint letter, the chief rabbis also referred to the theft and destruction of trees during the collection of firewood. "The prohibition against theft should be adhered to, as there are those who take wood from trees in private fields against the dictates of Jewish law.”

“In addition, there is a total prohibition against the destruction of good trees and the cutting down of fruit and decorative trees, which, according to halachic authorities, violates the prohibition of ‘Bal tashchit’ [‘Do not destroy’] and, insofar as the Torah requires us, consideration must be given to the environmental damage that may be caused by the fire.”