Live: Lag Ba’omer in Meron


meron[Video links below.] Lag Ba’omer festivities in Meron began tonight. This year, upwards of half-a-million people were expected to come to Meron to celebrate. The commemoration of Rav Shimon bar Yochai’s yahrtzeit at his kever brings together a combination of time and place of intense holiness. To those blessed to be there on Lag Ba’omer, no other experience is its equal. Little boys who reach the age of three between Pesach and  Lag Ba’omer are traditionally given their first haircut on Lag Ba’omer.

More than 430 years ago, a Rashbi hachnassas orchim group was formed to prepare for the special day’s massive crowds. In recent years, hachnassas orchim groups in Meron, at great expense, continuously overhaul and expand their food preparation kitchens.

Last Lag Ba’omer, as in years past, the hachnassas orchim groups distributed hundreds of thousands sandwiches and hot and cold drinks at the site. In addition to Lag Ba’omer, they provide hachnassas orchim throughout the year.

The Ta’amei HaMinhagim notes that many  people that had difficulty conceiving, finding a shidduch, recuperating from an illness or attaining a livelihood were successful only after they donated “chai rotel” (eighteen bottles, roughly 18 gallons) of wine for the  Lag Ba’omer celebrations at Meron. Rav Ovadia Mibartenura notes the success of this tradition.

Lately, the old tradition of donating 18 rotels of drinks – wine, grape juice, fruit juice, cold soda, or even cold water at the gravesite on the yahrzeit has come back strongly in practice. In olden times, childless couples would donate and themselves serve the drinks to visitors and needy supplicants praying at the ohel.

More than a million visits are made to the ohel regularly, with considerably more than half-a -million on Lag Ba’omer alone. In recent history, this may very well be the single largest annual gathering of observant Yidden anywhere.

Bargain-priced flights left from all over the world to Israel before Shabbos, in advance of Lag Ba’omer. Bus companies in Israel provide single- and- multiple-day bus tours to Meron, Tzefas, Tiveriah, Amukah, the Golan Heights, Rosh HaNikrah, Pekien, as well as Chevron, Kever Rochel, Masada, Dead Sea, and Ein Gedi. On Lag Ba’omer, there is no such thing as an idle bus in all of Israel.    

Lighting The Bonfire

Tradition has given the Rebbes of Boyan the privilege of lighting the major bonfire on the rooftop of the Ohel structure. This usually takes place at 2:00 a.m. on Lag Ba’omer morning and is considered the highlight of the celebration. This year, the opportunity of providing oil for the Boyaner Rebbe’s lighting was offered by Gomlei Chesed Chassidei Boyan. For $138, the numerical value of hatzlachah, success, one becomes a partner participant in the important event.

Security Concerns

This year, as in the immediate years past, security concerns impose some impediments. Much attention is being focused on the relatively narrow road that leads up the hill to the ohel. Traffic on it is at a complete standstill all day. The otherwise five-minute drive literally takes hours, if not all day. Trudging up the mountain road by foot becomes very sensible on Lag Ba’omer. The most important visiting dignitaries, such as the chief rabbis, will be brought by helicopter.

Ohel Rashbi

Lag Ba’omer in Meron is invariably a hot day, with temperatures, at mid-day, in the 80s or 90s, compounded by the heat of the immense crowd dancing and singing. Though many bring drinks with them, personal supplies are quickly depleted. In spite of Meron being a highly visited location, it has almost no vending machines. That creates great appreciation for the sponsorship and distribution of drinks. Ohel Rashbi, in addition to offering 18 rotels of wine sponsorships for $150, also offers sponsorship of 18 rotels of cold water for $36 and 18 rotels of cold soda for $80, every last drop of which is drained with profound gratitude.

Rabbi Shraga Schnitzler leads Mosdos Ohel Rashbi Meron, a premier chesed organization.  

In addition to the mammoth events on Lag Ba’omer, Ohel Rashbi operates throughout the year, providing refreshments and entire meals to wayfarers, both individuals and groups, who journey to Meron to daven at the holy gravesite.

Nine Months Later

An inestimably unique event sponsored by Ohel Rashbi takes place a little more than nine months after Lag Ba’omer. The childless couples that came to Meron on the yahrzeit, and were blessed with babies, are invited back to Meron. Many couples, more than ordinarily imaginable, are indeed blessed with the long awaited birth of their first child. Shabbos Parshas Zachor has been designated for this special get-together in Meron to celebrate the miracle of the births. Approximately half of the couples hold the Friday night shalom zachar for sons; the other couples that had daughters celebrate with the Shabbos noon Kiddush. These joyous celebrations are at the initiative of and sponsored by Ohel Rashbi.

Hachnassas Orchim Rashbi

Rabbi Avrohom Galanti, zt”l, author of Yerach Yakar, established Mifal Hachnassas Orchim Rashbi. He is also attributed with the building of the present Ohel for Rav Shimon bar Yochai.

The organization also builds the central bimah upon which orchestras and numerous singers provide appropriate inspirational music and song all day long.

This organization will distribute tons of food tonight and tomorrow, including more than 10 tons of meat, thousands of portions of fish, chicken, kugel, and thousands of bottles of drinks. A special order was made this year, as in years past, for more than half-a-million plastic drinking cups.         

 To watch a live feed from Meron. click here or here.

  {Yair Israel}


  1. One sided piece that omits the fact that large segments of the frum velt deliberately do not take part in this, for various reasons.

    Moreinu Rav Elyoshiv shlit”a never went to Meron. He said that he feels closer to R. Shimon ben Yochai learning a blatt gemara.

    Even among Chassidim, significant segments don’t take part in it. This website itself just very recently reported that R. Yisroel Hager of Vizhnitz, one of the largest Chassidic groups, told the bochurim not to go to Meron on lag baomer. I believe that Gerrer Chasdidim stay away as well, in addition to some Satmar types.

    Minhag Ashkenaz is not to take part in going to Meron, hadlokos (bonfires), upsherin, chai rotel, etc. See the famous teshuvoh of the Chasam Sofer where he says that he would not take part in the Meron pilgrimage, as he doesn’t know if one may make a yomtov not mentioned in Shas and poskim.

    We have seen reports of problems with possible chillul Shabbos with the preparations, police deployement, problems with bonfires with pollution, some people have problems breathing Hashem yiracheim.

    I doubt R. Shimon is happy with at least some of what is being done in his name.

  2. Poster number would do away with hundreds of thousands of Yidden’s hisorerus, because HE has doubts with what is being done in Rabbi Shimeon’s name. I’ll remind him about lo nohago kovod etc.

  3. typical response,only my shitah is correct. we cant all agree and respect another derech .Fact. thousands of every kind of background are in miron each for their own yeshuah .they can’t all be wrong. just wish them well, and stay at your gemara .
    and be proud of your derech, not by minimizing others

  4. Comment # 1 Face it: The MAJORITY OF YIDDEN take positive inspiration from this. This is what the Rashbi wanted: that Yidden should celebrate on his day. Yes, I expect an article like this one to be on the side of inspiration, and on the side of kedoshim and tehorim who grow their ruchanius on Lag B’Omer. Does every article need a “wet blanket” down side?

  5. Here is how comment number 1 should read:

    Aside from Moreinu Rav Elyoshiv shlit”a who never went to Meron, many tzadikim over the generations have and do go. They clearly feel closer to R. Shimon ben Yochai there than when they learn a blatt gemara.

    Among Chassidim, Huge segments take part in it.

    Aside from aberrations like minhag Ashkenaz, Yidden who would like to but cannot make it to Meron have hadlokos (bonfires), upsherin, parades etc. Since Rabbi Shimeon was a Tanna and he requested that his day be a day of simcha, we have not question about the validity of a yomtov not mentioned in Shas and poskim. The days of paying attention to those who are kofer in the authenticity of Kabolloh are long over.

    We have seen from the death of Rabbi Akiva’s talmidim that we should focus on Ahavas Yisroel and not squeeze out negativity by assuming that there are possible reports of possible problems with possible chillul Shabbos with the preparations. And if we are into ruchanius, we are not going to join the green-peace fools to mention problems with bonfires and pollution, just like we don’t on Erev Pesach. Some people have problems breathing a good word about other types of Yidden Hashem yiracheim.

    I have no doubt R. Shimon is happy with what is being done in his name, and what has been done for centuries. I hope Rabbi Shimeon is mochel the few detractors who are still gasping for their voice of protest.

  6. To the commenters above. The way of Torah is to mention both sides of a machlokes. Since you guys obviously want to censor the minhogim of gedolim like the Chasam Sofer, and lihadil, lichayim tovim aruchim, Rav Elyoshiv shlita, obviously you are the ones with a problem, going shel kiderech haTorah.

    Do your gemaras give one opinion too and censor out the other?

    P.S. I see matzav reported 300,000 there. Not such a large amount and great deal of them are Sephardim, some of which are not too religious.

  7. #3, 4(10 min apart, hmm)

    #1 just mentiond another side/point-of-view. So, who is it that cant tolerate..? and kovod?!

  8. Interesting how comments 3, 4, and 5 were all written between 3 21 and 3 46 AM. Some shut eye may have calmed you down

  9. I just want to say I was in Meron today and I was very inspired. The tremendous outpouring of tefillah as well as the hacnassas orchim was incredible!

  10. wherever you find kedusha you find the opposite. most of the people thtat are there are sincere and looking for z’chusim. Mi kamcha yisroel.

  11. Agree w/#9 frum yid and #11 inspired in Meron. And #6 not so simple, and if they are not religious , there fore what ?!! its a GREAT oppurtunitty to bring them closer to yiddishkeit, especially that they are living in ERETZ YISRORL ! U should be ashamed of yourself !

  12. Ashreinu shenitpasnu al simchas hilulas rashbi. Baruch Hashem there are so many saintly people who are busy studying Torah round the clock and the rest of klal yisroel is drawing material and spiritual hashpaos and yeshuos by Rashbi who by the way is the sole link to the Torah from his times to our times and in his merit we have Torah!!! So what do you think? In the times of the Bet Hamikdash there were also those opposed to celebrate Simchas Bet Hashoeva because they rather wanted to sit and study Torah?
    And all posters why are you wasting time on posting go learn!