Photos: Lighting and Dancing in Meron!
Tens of thousands visiting the tomb of the Rashbi on Mount Meron danced through the night around a large bonfire and were greeted by videos of the Rebbe.
Photos by Mendy Hechtman & Meir Alfasi
Tens of thousands of Jews from all walks of life flocked Wednesday night to Mount Meron in Israel to celebrate the yahrzeit of the mystic sage, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (Rashbi), author of the seminal kabbalistic text, the Zohar.
Lag BaOmer, on Iyar 18, is considered the day on which the innermost secrets of the Torah were revealed by the Rashbi as he was surrounded by an aura of light - one of the reasons for the bonfires. It is also the day celebrating the stoppage of a plague that killed 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva's disciples in the early 2nd century C.E.
The large bonfire was lit by the Boyaner Rebbe, Rabbi Nachum Dov Brayer, a tradition that was purchased by his ancestor, the first Sadigura Rebbe, from the Sephardi guardians of Meron and Safed.
All night dancing accompanied by songs about Rashbi and the chassidic nigunnim then continued, as many waited on line to enter and pray in the tomb of Rashbi.
Spotted in the crowd were Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Vice Chairman of Merkos L'inyonei Chinuch chatting with Israel's Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz, Crown Heights real estate boss Rabbi Dovid Fisher with the Boyaner Rebbe and R' Gershon Chaimson, a Crown Heights sofer, with a friend.
The authorities' preparations for the hilula in Meron take weeks. Police commander Eli Krisphil for the Northern District told Arutz Sheva, "All necessary emergency services are in place, and we are guarding the festivities with 1,200 police officers."
Hatzalah, ZAKA and Magen David Adom had paramedics and ambulances on hand to deal with possible emergencies, smoke inhalation, and burns from the bonfires.
Chabad had a strong presence as well. Visitors were welcomed by large images of the Rebbe and the screening of the Rebbe speaking about Lag Baomer.
A special booth sold Chabad seforim for a discounted price, while a tent was made available for farbrengens and consulting with visiting Mashpiim.