Friday, May 13, 2011

Why aren't the bonfires being canceled or rescheduled?

In Israel, some of the major Lag Bomer bonfires attract 10s of thousands of people, requiring cooperation from local police and fire authorities. This year Lag Bomer falls on Saturday night, meaning the local police and fire authorities will be required to work for the sake of the bonfires.

Some Rabbis have called for the bonfires to be canceled or rescheduled to prevent the shabbos desecration, and small concessions have been made by some groups. In Meron, for example, the most popular bonfire won't be lit until after midnight, but is that enough?

I don't understand why they haven't been canceled all together.

The bonfires are not required by Torah or rabinic law, and according to some don't even count as an official minhag. They're just something that some Jews do. And even if they did have some religious status, the precedent is still clear: We cancel shofer blowing on Rosh Hashana, a Torah mitzvah, when Rosh Hashana falls on shabbos. What possible logic can be behind the decision not to cancel the bonfires? They will unquestionably cause shabbos desecration, so how can they be allowed?

Is this another example of certain religious groups putting their own personal priorities and desires ahead of the community of Israel as a whole? Why is one person's desire to dance by the light of a bonfire, more valuable then another Jew's shabbos observance?

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