As anyone who lives in Israel knows, Lag B’Omer is only a few days away.
You can always tell when Lag B’Omer is coming as supermarkets lock down their trolleys and anyone with anything made out of wood makes sure that it’s bolted in place lest hoards of young teenagers “borrow” it for their bonfire and carry it off in a trolley that they “borrowed” from a supermarket.
Even the non-Jews in the area know that Lag B’Omer is just around the corner. My son has strict instructions to only take wood from construction sites with the permission of workers at the site. He told me that last week one of the Arab asked him מתי חג האש (when is the “Fire Festival”).
A few points about Lag B’Omer:
- The Holiday is about Rabbi Akiva and ואהבת לרעך כמוך (Love you neighbour as yourself), damaging property, or stealing is certainly not an appropriate way to express this important principle.
- Similarly, anyone with teenagers know that they become very “clicky”; who gets invited to which bonfire is a major social issue for both of my older kids – if you have teenagers, you should remind them that excluding people from a bonfire is also against the whole concept of ואהבת לרעך כמוך
- Fire Safety and Road Safety are both more important than a large bonfire or travelling to Meron. I’ve been very pleased to hear ads on the Radio stressing the importance of driving safely, and I’m told that the Charedi neighbourhoods have Peshkevalim about Fire Safety. I don’t remember this in previous years, so it’s good to see that the education system is moving in the right direction.
If you’re looking for a tiyul on Lag B’omer, here are 2 suggestions which I probably wont get to this year, but would like to in the future:
Rachel, Wife of Rabbi Akiva
Until a few decades ago, this spot was neglected and full of litter. Then, one day, a hazy figure rescued a young man about to drown in Lake Kinneret. That night, Rahel appeared to him in a dream, told him that she had saved his life, and revealed the site of her grave. Armed with this new knowledge, the swimmer built this impressive monument.
Source: Jerusalem Post
With Kivrei Tzadikim, I always found the historical accuracy of the site less important than the story around the site, and as far as stories go, I love this one.
Mevasseret to Ramot (or Lifta)
The valley between Mevasseret Tzion and Yerushalayim is fascinating. I did it a many years ago with some guys from Yeshiva.
What is amazing is that right below the highway, there is a quiet peaceful valley with wildlife and caves to explore.
The connection to Lag B’Omer is that in several of the caves you can see water dripping onto rocks where the water has created a hole in the rock, just as described in the well known legend of Rabbi Akiva, definitely worth a visit.