Friday, May 27, 2016

Meron, and the Bonfires of Lag ba' Omer

Meron is a village in northern Israel , near the town of Safed (Tzfat). It is famous for the tomb of Rashbi (Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai), an ancient scholar , and for the pilgrimage  of thousands to his tomb on Lag ba' Omer  holiday. 

Rashbi  was the author of the Zohar ( brightness, radiance in hebrew),  the basic text of the Kabbalah (the mystical dimension of the Torah). On the day of his passing he instructed his disciples to mark the date as a day of great light and joy.

entrance to the tomb (Web picture)

On the eve of Lag ba' Omer,( this year it fell on Wednesday 25 May) it is customary to light bonfires across the country , to commemorate  the passing of the talmudic sage, Rashbi, who gave us intense light through his teachings and miracles.


Children love bonfires. They work hard to gather scraps of wood and everything else that is needed to maintain a nice looking bonfire. They enjoy contemplating the fire, taking care of it, shouting, singing, eating roasted potatoes...Parents cooperate and supervise.

giving instructions

Until the last few years, the bonfires were modest: small to medium size. Now they've become bigger, more spectacular.  Meat (kebab, steak..) has been added to the menu of the innocent jacket potatoes .

adding wood to fire

I love bonfires too, but, honestly, if this tradition were to be abolished I wouldn't shed many tears. It's dangerous, it pollutes the air, of them is right behind my building (100 meter from it, I guess). On the other hand, I feel blessed by this annual bonfire near my home,  so I'll just settle for ways to minimize the dangers .  One has to see the good in everything.

tiny synagogue in the background (seen from my upper window)
 I feel blessed by its presence too

The firefighters and the paramedics are very busy on the eve of Lag ba' Omer and on the next day,especially in Meron where many thousands gather to pray in and around  Rashbi's tomb  asking for salvations , lighting bonfires, and having a lot of joy .

interesting view of the synagogue - 
seen in the circle around the fire

Friday, May 13, 2016

Reactor 4, Chernobyl

reactor 4 (web picture)

Last month, on 26 of April, the world marked the 30 years anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster (1986).

"To err is human"  -  but, it could also be fatal. The above disaster was due to human error. The operators of reactor 4 at the nuclear plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine, made some serious mistakes during a safety test - the result of which  became known  as the worst ever nuclear disaster in history .

Following the explosion within reactor 4 were: release of radiation (much more than that released by the american bomb dropped on Hiroshima), deaths, evacuations, diseases, an exclusion (ghost) zone of 30 km radius around Chernobyl .

According to what has been reported in the media so far, the exclusion zone remains almost uninhabited. There are some 200 elderly living here at their own risk, a group of officials that administrate the zone, and about 3000 people that work in the plant (in rotation shift) to finish the construction of the sarcophagus that is supposed to prevent further radiation leakage. Since 2011, the area is open to short, escorted domestic and international tours.

Nuclear Power and Climate Change, whether combined ( as in the case of Fukushima nuclear disaster caused by earthquake ) or separately, might gradually terminate the world.

I think we can't do much about these two factors, and that's very frustrating, especially as climate is becoming more and more anomalous. What we ordinary people could do, is  perhaps, pay more  attention  to where we live and be aware of / evaluate the dangers of our immediate environment.
Knowing the facts, some people may decide on relocation to a safer place.