Lag Ba'omer in Meron
Lag Ba'omer in MeronHezki Baruch

Rabbi Eliyahu Abergel, the head of rabbinical court chiefs in Jerusalem, spoke with Arutz Sheva about what he defined as a deviation from the known customs of the Lag Ba'omer holiday.

"The custom of our fathers, and our fathers' fathers, was to celebrate the anniversary of Rashbi's passing, on the eve of Lag Ba'omer, by celebrating the completion of the Zohar in the synagogue," Rabbi Abergel said. "We never lit bonfires and had these shows. This tumult that we see today in Meron - it never used to be. The sages of the world opposed it."

He added: "There is no issue with marking anniversaries of passing at the graves of the righteous. But all these bonfires and bonfire lightings have no benefit - not to the dead person and not to those who die. The main goal was to gather together and learn from the holy book of the Zohar.

"We see the results of the bonfires and bonfire lightings. It's not in honor of Rashbi (Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, author of the Zohar - ed.) that they make these bonfires. I don't want to say that they do these bonfires to honor themselves, and endanger the public.

"We need to return to the source and gather in the synagogues in every place on Lag Ba'omer. There is no source in Jewish law for bonfires and bonfire lightings. There is a place for lighting a candle in memory of the righteous person, but not for lighting bonfires which endanger lives.

"There are even those who say that it is in the category of idolatry - the non-Jews dance around fire. We occupy ourselves with words of Torah and the holy Zohar. We must return to the sources and to the truth," he concluded.