Hundreds of thousands of Israelis lit massive bonfires on Wednesday evening to celebrate the holiday of Lag Ba’omer, including a huge pilgrimage at the grave of an ancient Jewish mystic on Mount Meron in the Galilee region.
Lag Ba’omer marks the 33rd day of the seven week period between Passover and the Festival of Weeks, the day on which Rabbi Simeon Bar Yochai is said to have died nearly two millennia ago.
The sage stands out among his Talmudic peers for his association with the Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism. Fittingly, his grave is located near the city of Safed, which is historically a capital for Kabbalistic studies.
Many tens of thousands flock to Bar Yochai’s grave each year on the holiday – which Rabbi Bar Yochai himself supposedly declared a joyous day – as bonfires are kindled across the country commemorating the saintly spirit.