Meron 5783: A Collective Sigh of Relief as the Joy of Rabi Shimon Returns

Meron 5783: A Collective Sigh of Relief as the Joy of Rabi Shimon Returns

YS Gold 

Klal Yisroel collectively held its breath as the day of Lag Ba’omer approached. What would the hillula of Rashbi look like, and how would it be celebrated? 

For three years, Klal Yisroel was prevented from celebrating in a proper fashion the hillula which has been so sacredly and joyously marked for centuries. 2020 was the year of Corona, when very few people were allowed into Meron. 2021 was thought to be the year of return—but then the terrible tragedy occurred. And 2022 saw a terrible overcorrection by the Israeli government, which sought to asset tight control over the festivities in an effort to avoid a similar tragedy, chas v’sholom. 

But secular control over the mountain came with a terrible cost, dampening the entire event, leaving Meron revelers without the oxygen of Rabi Shimon for the third year in a row. 

It was clear that any future event would need to be arranged and coordinated by people who are sensitive to the hillula and what it means to tens of thousands of Yidden who make their way there to rejoice with Rabi Shimon and draw yeshu’os in the zechus of the holy Tanna. 

Thus, it was with great anticipation that so many in Eretz Yisroel and around the world waited to see how the carefully laid plans of askonim—both on behalf of the government, as well as those from the sector of those who abhorred any government involvement whatsoever. 

By all accounts, the hillula was an incredible, organized success. 

The me’arah of Rabi Shimon was accessible to all, with the line taking about 25 minutes only—organized by heimish men who were paid by the commission in charge of Meron. As well, sadranim were placed all around Meron, organizing and keeping the flow of humanity moving in a safe manner.  

A careful tally was run the entire Lag Ba’omer on the number of buses leaving for Meron and how many left Meron, seeking to ensure that not too many people crowded the town at any one time.

Enormous efforts were expended to arrange outlying sites for major hadlakahs, such as the one presided over by Rav Meilech Biederman which brought together tens of thousands of people and still had an overflow. That site was located about twenty minutes’ walk from the tziyun. The same went for other sites as well, all so there should not be crowding in the center of the celebrations. The overhaul in infrastructure was likely also a factor that eased up the crowding—even though organizers say that the numbers in Meron were higher this year than ever before. 

As crowds and crowds of satisfied and joyful celebrants left the courtyard of Rabi Shimon, it was with a sense of gratitude to have been able to celebrate as in the past, and with a tefillah for their heartfelt prayers to be answered in the zechus of the holy Tanna Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai. 

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