Like in previous years, also this year the Hilulah of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was celebrated at Meron along with Breslov Shuvu Banim — Nechamat Tzion with the participation of our Rebbe Rav Eliezer Berland shlit”a. The event saw the participation of thousands of people from all sectors of the Jewish world.
The Hilulah began already at the Ma’ariv prayer in the courtyard of the Prayer Hall on Ido HaNavi Street in Jerusalem with Rav Berland shlit”a. The Rav prayed Ma’ariv and counted the Omer with song and melody for over an hour and forty minutes with very great vitality. Crowds of people arrived also from outside the city to participate in Ma’ariv and the most important counting of the Omer — Lag B’Omer, the day of the Hilulah of Rashbi. After Ma’ariv, the Rav sang at length the melodies of Sefirat HaOmer, especially the melody “And through this, great bounty will be bestowed in all the worlds.” After the counting of the Omer, the Rav shlit”a delivered a short shiur about the greatness of Rashbi and the greatness of the day of Lag B’Omer.
Afterwards, starting at 10 pm, the community began to head out on the buses organized by “Shuvu Banim Nechamat Tzion” in the direction of Meron. The Hilulah took place this year in area 89, a place wide enough to allow for dancing and singing. At 3 am, oil began to be poured in preparation for the bonfire in honor of Rashbi, and at 4:15 began the singing of the moving melodies of arousal in honor of Rashbi.
Moreinu HaRav shlit”a came this year, like last year, in a helicopter until the city of Tzfat, and after an unforeseen technical delay, the Rav arrived at the Hilulah in Meron at 4:40 and entered his room. After a few minutes, at 4:50, the Rav shlit”a emerged from his room and ascended the stand of the bonfire lighting, poured oil on the location of the lighting, and afterwards lit the bonfire in honor of the holy Tanna Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. In a moment, the joy burst out from the hearts of the thousands of men, women, and children who came to participate in the lighting, singing the song “In honor of the Godly Tanna Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.” There is no describing the greatness of the joy and the dancing that there was this year in Meron. After a number of minutes in which the Rav shlit”a danced with the Gabbaim and others close to him, the Rav shlit”a left the circle and began to dance alone with fiery fervor and awesome vitality, with the joy piercing the very heavens!! The Rav shlit”a danced like this for close to an hour, dancing and clapping, and from sheer happiness, the Rav shlit”a took his hat in hand and tossed it in the air a number of times, and so all the community after him. Such happiness that pierces the heavens must certainly sweeten all the judgments, and all the more so in the merit of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai zy”a.
After exactly fifty minutes of dancing, at the minute of sunrise, Morning Zemirot began with the Rav shlit”a and the whole community wrapping themselves in Tallit and crowning themselves with Tefillin. After the Morning Zemirot, Korbanot, and Pesukei D’Zimra, with the Rav shlit”a especially emphasizing “Lamnatzeah Binginot,” singing it for some twenty minutes, the Rav shlit”a stood with the stender in front of the public, when it was possible to see the radiance of his holy face, and throughout the prayer the Rav invigorated the giant crowd with his holy movements in fear and joy. After Pesukei D’Zimra, the Rav recited Kriat Shema and its blessings with melodies, being well-heard on the loudspeaker throughout the entire area. It’s worth noting that this is the only Shacharit prayer in the Hilulah grounds which is prayed in an official fashion. After the Amidah, the Rav shlit”a prayed the repetition with great vitality. At the end of the prayer, the Rav shlit”a sang for a number of minutes, and immediately afterwards begin saying the Tikkun HaKlali in front of the holy site of Meron together with all those gathered. After the Tikkun HaKlali, the Rav shlit”a fired an arrow which they brought him, and afterwards descended back to his home. Also in returning to Jerusalem, the Rav shlit”a flew in a helicopter, however because of the security situation, this time he landed in Herzliya and from there travelled by car to his home in Jerusalem.