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May 18, 2014

The great reasons Lag baOmer bonfire will never be postponed

in response to having been asked if he considered delaying the lighting of the Lag BaOmer bonfire... the Boyaner Rebbe is reported to having said, "We are not postponing it, just like we do not postpone Hanukkah and Purim."

The Boyaner Rebbe knows a lot more than me, but last time I checked, the date of Purim is regularly changed..  The mishna and Gemara discuss a list of dates Purim can be celebrated on, depending on the day of the week the 14th of Adar lands on..

But that's not as cute or witty a response as the response of other "sources", who said "Lag BaOmer is not Yom Haaztmaut that you can push it off to whenever you want.."
source: Bechadrei

My purpose is not to be outraged at chilul shabbos. There is plenty of chilul shabbos, both public and private, going on in the State of Israel at any given time, and I rarely express shock or outrage at it. I generally am of the believers of live and let live, there is not much we can do about it, we cannot force others to do what we want, etc.

The chilul shabbos caused by Lag Baomer bonfires is probably minimal compared to that of opening a parking lot in Jerusalem or a new theater and entertainment center in Jerusalem, or allowing markets to be opened on Shabbos in Tel Aviv.

The difference is that this is being done by people who supposedly care about Shabbos. This is being done by people who do call out others for their chilul shabbos. This is being done by people who normally fight against other people who put their own enjoyment and pleasure before the importance of Shabbos observance.

It is hypocrisy I call out.  

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  1. Is anyone else concerned about the ridiculous size and quantity of the bonfires, which create terrible air quality?

  2. On this one, I'm going to call you out as totally missing the point.

    To my understanding, the first real mitzvah in the Torah is Hashem giving us the power to decide the start of the month. This is so deep. Hashem is telling us, that we little humanoids have power over the calender (that others will say is unchangeable, right?) Even if the Sanhedrin had one of those 5000 year calenders, they still had to wait for some Haim Shmenkels to come and give testimony. This is so deep.

    So yes, we humanoids do have the power to turn off a holiday, and to turn it on the next day. Hashem gave that to us. Yes, we use that power to push off the fast of Esther and B'av.

    And yes, if there is a way to prevent the mass chilul Shabbat, why not?? All what you mentioned is for secular entertainment, but the hilula of Rabbi Shimeon is a holy Tanah. Do you understand how much hillul Shabbat was prevented yesterday. It's incredible! The previous times that Lag feel on motzash, I watched how some fathers would already drive their kids to stake out the land in the empty lot below my apartment and worked all afternoon to schlep wood for the bonfire that they lit before Shabbat was out. This year - nada, nothing. What did the these Haredim do (certainly not all)? Gave all these seculars the big finger.

    Chilul Shabbat is chilul Shabbat, period.

    And please tell me, since we religious are so holier than others, that no one who went to Rashbi last night avoided violating Shabbat. Please tell me, that the tens of thousands of travellers had an entirely regular Shabbat with absolutely no personal preparation during Shabbat (no matter how minimal in your words). That above all is a hillul Shabbat that is even worse. That is 100% hypocrisy, lchathila

  3. I think the Boyaner rebbe deserves some kaf zekhuth here. I think he meant one of two things: 1) Purim doesn't change from the pre-established set times (בזמנם/בזמניהם), IOW 11-15 Adar, Or 2) We currently do not deviate from 14-15 Adar.

    1. IIUC, Purim itself doesn't deviate from 14/15 Adar, depending where you are. We can, however, read the megillah starting a few days before the chag.

      Of course, this just raises a larger issue - Purim was established in a way which permitted carrying out its "pirsumei nisa" aspect, i.e., reading the megillah, on a day which was convenient for people. Why can't Lag Ba'omer be the same way - observe the chag on the 33rd day of the Omer, but build in the ability to observe its "pirsumei nisa" (so to speak) aspect, i.e., the bonfires, on a different day which reduces chillul shabbos (which I think there's a general agreement that its a more important reason than convenience.)

  4. Josh,

    what you call deep I see shallow.

    When the world believed that the earth was only thousands of years old, and had no real understanding of the cosmos, it made sense to have verification of the start of a month - especially if the earth is the center of the universe and the moon revolves around the earth. But to call that form of verification 'deep' nowadays is to completely ignore the science which has developed. It'd be like someone looking at an iphone and saying, wow - look how wonderful papyrus is.

    1. Science? Gimme a break. The Sanhedrin had math and knew the calender, but the rule was to always depend on the witnesses even if they 'knew' it was wrong.

    2. I think vinyl records are actually back in style and praised for their sound quality - if you don't mind scratches, skipping and bumping

  5. There are so many things wrong with how this day is marked. (This is coming from a religious perspective).
    Not the least of which is the fact that the educational system and parents don't make any significant effort to reduce the ridiculous pollution. I WANT TO BREATHE!

  6. Rafi - Chareidi hypocrisy is surprising to you? And exactly how long have you been in Israel?

    Unfortunately, this is old hat amongst Chareidi "leadership". Yell and scream about how terrible something is until you need it yourself, then it suddenly becomes a non-issue.

  7. Question. How much of the chillul shabbos is required for the Lag Ba Omer bonfire to take place? The gathering itself is on motzei shabbos, and I assume the vast majority of people travel there after shabbos.

    So what are we talking about? Setting up before shabbos is over for the evening's activities? Setting up barricades? And is there any reason any of that cannot be done on Friday?

    I am not disagreeing necessarily, but I want to understand how exactly a Motzei Shabbos event (and I presume it is late motzei shabbos) necessarily causes chillul shabbos. (Conversely, how much of that is instead caused by convenience or budgetary considerations.)

    (OTOH, you don't have to move Lag Ba Omer. Just dont have a huge gathering in Meron. Have smaller ones where you live, say three hours after shabbos.)

    1. there are a few forms of chilul shabbos that I know of:
      1. organizers, especially police, guards and firemen, who have to work on shabbos, both protecting those who already are there along with preparing for the masses that will be coming.
      2. people, lets say the semi-religious, who leave before shabbos is over, trying to get a head start.
      3. people who start private bonfires befre shabbos is actually over
      4. hachana

      your argument could also be made for yom hazikaron, yet they push it off recognizing that it will cause chilul shabbos

    2. Rafi, your responses here and to Anonymous below are confusing several different things. What exactly is the complaint -- that the Charedim had a big event at Meron, or that they did not move Lag Ba Omer for the whole country? There is no hypocrisy (nor is there anything halachikally wrong) if someone were to have a small bonfire somewhere on Motzei Shabbos, and maybe invite a couple of hundred religious people.

      The fact that some non-religious people chose to violate shabbos by preparing for or even being mechallel shabbos for the post-shabbos event is not caused by Charedim. In fact, that happens for every yom tov and other major event. I

      So you really cannot lay #2, # 3 and #4 at the feet of Charedim. Lag ba Omer is when it is, and if someone who never keeps shabbos declines to keep it this week, Charedim cannot be blamed.

      #1, however, is a stronger complaint, because there it seems there is a causal link between the big event and chillul shabbos by police, etc. My question, which has yet to be answered, is whether the large size of the event necessitated chillul shabbos, or it could have been taken care of before.

    3. "Lag ba Omer is when it is"

      That's the problem with the people in the post itself- it *isn't* it's a very minor day and you can have your bonfire the next night without any halakhic or historical problem.

      "or that they did not move Lag Ba Omer for the whole country"

      The rest of the country did. They didn't join.

  8. What about shavous at the kotel or shabbat chaya sarah. Should we also be discouraged from attending because of the chillul shabbat from the police army in accomodating thousands of extra people. Is this not an example of double standards

    1. shavuos is deoraisa. you cant push that off.
      chayei sara in chevron? does something happen on saturday night that should be pushed off? should we push off shabbos? I am not sure what you are suggesting..

    2. Again you are conflating yom tov or shabbos (which of course cannot be moved) with holding a big event (which of course can be).

    3. Slight difference between a large attendance at an area that always requires police presence on Shabbos, vs. an event Motzai Shabbos which could be made later to make the chilul Shabbos preparations less acute. If for example the hilula in Meron were restructured so that only foot traffic with no fires would go on until midnight, more police could be shuttled in *after* Shabbos is out, in time for the big crush.

  9. There is no chiuv in spending shabbos in hevron with thousands ofbpeople that wojld necessitate hundreds of police and soldiers to work on shabbat

  10. the answer to all the questions?

    Rav Dovid Yosef, son of Rav Ovadia, surprisingly also says the haredi community has caused tremendous chilul shabbos. he says they should not go to meron. he says at earliest they should only go 5 hours later, if at all. in general he is against going to meron on lag baomer, and says his father was as well, because it is a tremendous waste of time, losing hours just to be by the kever for a few seconds. but if going, it should only be not before 5 hours after shabbos.

    read and listen to what he had to say

  11. once we solve the chillul shabbat problem maybe we can work on all the gezel involved in this day.

    1. And the shefichus damim.
      People that won't accept the smallest blemish on the lung of an animal that they eat should also be careful about damaging the lungs of their neighbors.

  12. My question, which has yet to be answered, is whether the large size of the event necessitated chillul shabbos, or it could have been taken care of before.

    according to an article i read, the police were on site by last tuesday because there were already a large number of people there. were there reinforcements sent on shabbat, did they have to do extra work? don't know.

  13. A few days ago Josh wrote a comment, and I think he's correct. The pushing-off of Lag B'Omer bonfires has taken hold in the traditional circles - and chillul Shabbat has been reduced tremendously.

    The hypocrisy I see is not in Charedim *making* bonfires, but in mocking the Rabbanut and dati leumi in leading the way on this. They say "but there's more chilul Shabbos in Tel Aviv in one day" or other excuses as to why the Rabbanut shouldn't even *bother* with these efforts.

    The Charedim basically don't care if anyone else is violating Shabbos - they say הלעיטהו וימות about anything and everything outside their community. Lost is the idea that helping move things - anything - a little bit in the right direction, is an accomplishment.

    When the Charedim ignore these little efforts of the traditional Jews in the country - and they are the majority - they basically cut themselves off from religious growth of the country as a whole. If it isn't their way, it's irrelevant and meaningless.

    In fact, I think we will even see a heightened awareness in Meron itself regarding chilul Shabbos - obviously it won't eliminate it completely, but whatever awareness will be achieved is not to the credit of the Charedim who raise their voices mocking it.

  14. "probably minimal compared to that of opening a parking lot in Jerusalem or a new theater and entertainment center in Jerusalem, or allowing markets to be opened on Shabbos in Tel Aviv"

    Probably not. The people who'd park or see a movie or shop on Shabbat are going to do it anyway. This event causes people who would otherwise keep Shabbat not to, one way or another.

  15. Security officer expresses pain over having to violate shabbat for meron. His letter is published on the haredi news site kikar shabat. See the article and the apologies in the comments:



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