Saturday, May 21, 2011

Bar Yochai

Thirty nine years ago like this year Lag B'omer was motzai shabbat.Where was I on that shabbat? Thats right I was in Meron for the Hilulla of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.
I wasn't yet 21 years old and just married a couple of months. Risa and I decided along with two other couples to make the trip from Yerushalayim to Meron for Lag B'Omer. No one had a car. We packed everything we needed for 3 days and got on an Egged bus for the North. We arrived at Meron on Friday, set up our tents and got ready for Shabbat together with the hundeds already on Mt Meron near the Holy site where Rashbi is buried.

I will never forget that Shabbat. I dovened with the Sfinka Chassidim. At the end of Kabbalat Shabbat everyone got up to dance. About fifty men, hands linked at the waist and the small of the back formed a circle. Slowly at first we began the dance, a shuffle really. We were singing "pizmon Bar Yochai" Invoking the name of the Holy Tanna "Bar Yochai, nimshachta oshrecha, shemen sasson mechaveirecha"  "Bar Yochai you are annointed in gladness" Singing the refrain over and over, stamping one step back and two steps forward. This continued for more than half an hour, but I lost track of time and place. The strangest thing was here I was dressed in a short sleeved white shirt and kippa seruga in the middle of a throng of black coated chassidim wearing fur shtrrimels, but no one looked at me as if I didn't belong. It was as if we weren't in Israel 1972 but were connected to something above and beyond the present. It wasn't hard to imagine that there were Jews who almost 2,000 years before had come to this mountain in the Gallil to bury their Rebbe, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.


  1. I would like to say "Ah yes, I remember it well!" But I wasn't dancing with the Sfinka, was I? I think we went to a different shul. ;)

  2. Yes, not only was there no ezrat nashim, there were no women anywhere near there.

  3. We never had such adventures, just different ones...