For the last year, Israel has felt darkness engulfing them. The terror has been palpable, terrifying, and disturbing. But we’ve proven to ourselves and the world at large that it won’t stop us. Israel and her citizens will live and thrive. We will light up the world with our goodness, kindness, generosity, medical advances, technology, sciences, agriculture developments, energy, and education. We won’t sit in the darkness and sulk. We will grow, produce, nurture, and develop.
There might not be a basis in the Bible for the Lag BaOmer holiday, but it is a festive day on the Jewish calendar, commemorating the life of the sage and mystic Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, author of the Zohar. It also memorializes another event. In the weeks between Passover and Shavuot, a plague raged amongst the disciples of the great sage Rabbi Akiva. On Lag BaOmer the dying ceased. Families spend the day outdoors with bonfires, barbeques, music, and friends. Many travel to Meron, the gravesite of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.
Last night, my family and I took the opportunity to walk through our town and see the glow all around us. It may have been nighttime, but the light emanating from the bonfires was blazing with radiant light, illuminating the darkness. The bonfires are symbolic of the immense light that Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai taught through his mystical teachings. On Lag BaOmer, the day of his passing, it is said that he revealed to his disciples the secrets of the Torah, with such an intensity the world had not experienced yet.
The bonfires did not disappoint last night. Children and adults spent the day collecting broken pieces of wood, branches, and cardboard. They used shopping carts to move these enormous mounds of debris from one location to the next. I hope they return the shopping carts to the supermarkets they “borrowed” them from! I’m sure they will! Each bonfire was created with pride and satisfaction. After observing and participating, and roasting dozens of marshmallows, my son announced that he is taking the day off from school next year to go on a collecting-wood-mission. He couldn’t believe what I had made him miss out on by going to school.
When we returned home, I was so happy that we had remembered to close our windows, so as not to come home to a smoke-filled apartment. My kids faces were glowing with joy. They said they had never had that much fun in their lives. My son, who wanted to stay out all night, said to me, “You can go home, I know the way back.” That didn’t go over so well!
So while we are dealing with daily terror in Israel, we will continue to glow with radiance. And we will be a light in the darkness. We will shine with truth. We won’t let anything stop us from enjoying life and living in our homeland. Israel’s light is here to stay, forever.