Monday, May 19, 2014

What do the Lag B'omer Lovers really love?

For decades, we all thought that Abner Doubleday woke up one morning and invented baseball in Cooperstown, New York.  In honor of his achievement, we put the Hall of Fame there and until this day, millions make a pilgrimage to the sleepy, little town in upstate New York to honor and celebrate the game they love.

Only, now we know that Abner Doubleday didn't invent baseball. Now we know that the game developed contingently, over time, and uses rules borrowed from English games. Turns out, the old story abut Abner was 100 percent  false.

Does anyone among the mentally sane believe that acquiring this knowledge "sucked the joy" out of baseball? Has knowing the truth about its origin's "ruined" the game? Of course not. Yet, all over the Jewish World you find Lag B'omer lovers screaming that by telling the truth about the origins of the bonfire, or about Rashby's role in creating the Zohar, the rationalists have destroyed Lag B'omer.

All this tells me is that the Lag B'omer fans don't really love their game. They love the story. If they loved the game, they'd continue to enjoy it irrespective of how it developed. But for them the fun isn't in listening to music at a bonfire. For them the fun isn't it dancing. They don't love Lag Ba'omer. They love the phony story that surrounds it.

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