That's what happened last night in Meron, the town in northern Israel where hundreds of thousands gather each year on Lag B'Omer, the 33rd day of the countdown of 49 days from Pesach to Shavuot.
It's traditional to light bonfires at the start of this holiday that, in Israel, means one or two days off from school and a welcome break from the joy-restricted days of counting the omer starting on Passover.
Why bonfires? These commemorate the immense light that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai introduced into the world via his mystical teachings. This was especially true on the day of his passing, Lag B'Omer, when he revealed to his disciples secrets of the Torah whose profundity and intensity the world had yet to experience.
The Zohar relates that the house was filled with fire and intense light, to the point that the assembled could not approach or even look at Rabbi Shimon. The biggest bonfires and celebrations take place in and around Rabbi Shimon’s tomb, located in Meron. Hundreds of thousands attend the festivities every year, and the round-the-clock celebration, singing and dancing are unparalleled.
Last night, lighting the bonfire proved exceptionally difficult, as shown in the video that was streamed live by the Arutz Sheva TV station. First, the torch wouldn't light when the lighters were applied. When finally a weak flame was produced, the shtreimel-wearing rabbi tried to use it to light the main bonfire. But at first nothing happened. It took successive attempts with the lighter, application of rags and finally, numerous bottles of oil to bring the fire to a respectable level.
The video below was recorded from the live stream and runs almost three hours. We recommend fast forwarding to the 1 hour and 33 minutes starting point of the lighting ceremony, which lasts about ten minutes.
Enjoy your Lag B'Omer, whatever you do. We'll be visiting a botanical garden and starting our barbecue season, but we're not planning to enlist any Chassidic helpers, with or without lighters and bottles of oil.
(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: THE VIDEO IS NOT VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY. YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)