No – No – No – No – No – Minhag Ashkenaz & Recent Lag Ba’omer Innovations – חגיגת ל”ג בעומר ע”פ מנהג אשכנז, ללא מירון, חאלאקא, מדורה, ח”י רוטל

Yes, it is that time of the year again. Lag ba’omer is almost here. And with it, all the hype and solicitations for trips to Meron, Chai Rotel Mashkeh donations, upsherin, bonfires, and the like.

So it is time to review what our holy Ashkenazic mesorah is about relatively recent Lag Ba’omer innovations, to avert confusion be”H, and help save people from getting swept away by all the hype generated by those with stakes in promoting such a holiday.

To simplify things, בקיצור? No-No-No-No-No. (Yes, some of us enjoy saying no. 🙂 No, we are not always negative on everything. 😉

1) No new יום טוב not mentioned in ש”ס. As the חתם סופר famously wrote in a teshuvoh (יורה דעה רלג, last column on bottom left of page linked to), we do not go along with the making of a new Yom tov not mentioned in Shas and poskim. We don’t go along with making a holiday of the day a tzaddik passed away (aka hillulah) , when the gemara mentions such a day as a day of fasting. In the mesorah of Ashkenaz that is called a yohrzeit, and is a day of fasting and introspection. We don’t make a small village in northern Eretz Yisroel the focus of a giant pilgrimage, more than ירושלים עיה”ק.

Update: The Chasam Sofer also mentions this in a hesped that he gave after the devastating earthquake that hit northern Eretz Yisroel in the 1830’s למספרם. See in ספר תורת משה in the paragraph בד”ה אך לפי here.

2) No Bonfires. No putting ארץ ישראל under a giant cloud of smoke. It can be dangerous to people and the environment. Pollution, smoke inhalation. Some people suffer from the smoke, have to stay inside all day and night and keep their windows closed. Contractors in ארץ ישראל complain of significant losses from wood disappearing from building sites.

And what are the origins of bonfires in connection with such a day, if it is a yohrzeit, a death anniversary, as is claimed, anyway?  The Wikipedia entry on bonfires is interesting.

And even for those who insist on doing so anyway, must they be all over the place? And in the diaspora too lately? That was not done in the past.

3) No Upsherin – That has been well covered by others, see שרשי מנהג אשכנז חלק ג and elsewhere.

4)  No Chai Rotel Mashkeh. Chai Rotel is a Chassidic segulah, connected to the Meron event.

Interestingly though, in the sefer of minhogim of Worms, by ר’ יוזפא שמש, it does mention that מלמדים gave יי”ש to תלמידים, although presumably within reason of course. I assume it was something like ‘making a lechayim’.

5)  No תחנון – According to old מנהג אשכנז that goes only for שחרית though.

What many people don’t realize with all the Meron hype, is that many gedolim, and I am not just talking about גדולי אשכנז, but also great Chassidishe Rebbes and Sepharadic gedolim, deliberately do not participate in this event.

Rav Schach זצ”ל told his talmidim not to go to Meron (hat tip to Rafi). להבדיל בחל”ח, Rav Elyashiv שליט”א, as of a few years ago, had never gone to Meron. He stated, as was reported in the Jerusalem Post, that he feels closer to רשב”י learning a blatt gemara.

If the Chasam Sofer voiced reservations about the Meron pilgrimage close to two hundred years ago, when the attendance there was  much smaller than it is nowadays, would his reservations not be much greater today?

I am not getting into the she’eilos of possible חילול שבת caused by preparations for lag baomer when it comes out on Sunday like this year, and whether it is actually the yohrzeit of Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai. An excellent article discussing the latter issue, as well as other matters related to the day, has just appeared at the seforim blog.

YES – YES – YES – YES – YES – Minhag Ashkenaz & The Old Way Of The Day

1) Yes, we have simcha because the talmidim of Rabbi Akiva stopped dying.

2) Yes, it is a day when students are given leisure.

3) Yes, we enjoy music and have weddings.

4) Yes, we can take haircuts.

5) Yes, there is a place for משתה ושמחה.

In the zechus of following מנהג אבות, may we soon be zoche to ביאת משיח צדקנו, and have the zechus to be oleh to ירושלים עיה”ק בב”א.

א גוטען שבת און א פרייליכען ל”ג בעומר


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12 Responses to “No – No – No – No – No – Minhag Ashkenaz & Recent Lag Ba’omer Innovations – חגיגת ל”ג בעומר ע”פ מנהג אשכנז, ללא מירון, חאלאקא, מדורה, ח”י רוטל”

  1. sz Says:

    Are you saying that there exist days in the calendar where Tachanun is not said at Shacharis but is said at Mincha? Or did you mean to say that Tachanun is said during Mincha of the previous day?

  2. Treasures of Ashkenaz Says:

    I meant that according to minhag Ashkenaz, tachanun is said at mincha on lag ba’omer itself, and that is the practice the luach of Machon Moreshes Ashkenaz has for the day.

    I guess you are wondering about it because usually it seems to be that if we don’t say tachanun at Shacharis we don’t say it at mincha either. I am wondering if there are other days where it is not said at shacharis, but is said at mincha.

    However, we certainly are familiar with tachanun being said at shacharis and not at mincha. So then we see that shacharis and mincha of a specific day don’t necessarily have the same status with regard to tachanun. So this case is then in accordance with that, just that it is the reverse of what people are accustomed to. Instead of shacharis-yes and mincha-no, this is the reverse.

    Why is the practice such according to minhag Ashkenaz (which is not necessarily the same as minhag Ostreich, etc.)? Perhaps the idea is to show that Lag Baomer, despite the simcha and relaxation of aveilus, is nevertheless not a full fledged Yom Tov (just my speculation). Maybe I will try to get some clarification on the matter.

    • Treasures of Ashkenaz Says:

      SZ – I asked רבש”ה and he said that the minhog Ashkenaz was such (to omit tachanun for shacharis only, and resume saying it at mincha), because it (Lag Ba’omer) is not a full fledged Yom tov. He noted that the same minhog, to omit tachanun at shacharis, but go back to it for mincha, went for טו באב and טו בשבט as well, in minhog Ashkenaz hamuvhak.

      This was because they were viewed as having קדושה קלה, (only) a milder level of holiness, as opposed to, for example, Rosh Chodesh, Chanukah, and Purim, which have a greater kedushah as seen by the Hallel recited on them e.g. (Purim has it’s own mitzvos). The 15th of Shevat, Av, and Lag Baomer, don’t have Hallel, and surely not musaf.

  3. Rallis Wiesenthal Says:

  4. יחיאל גולדהבר Says:

    כבוד המחבר שליט”א

    הינך צודק במאת האחוזים, ולא רק שכל החינגא לא תואם את מסורת אשכנז, אלא לדעתי הוא
    לא תואם גם את המנהג הספרדי המקורי, שהם אלו שהינהיגו את כל ה”הילולא”. הלא מפורש
    שהאריז”ל למד עם החברים זוהר הקדוש, ואני תמה: האם במצב של היום, יכול להיות מציאות
    כזו?! האם נעלה על הדעת שרקדו ריקודים בסגנון כמו של היום!

    אולם ציטוט של הנהגות הרב שך והרב אלישוב, לדעתי אינם במקום, מה להם ולמנהג אשכנז
    והמקורי? הרי לעומתם, מאות ואלפי גאונים וצדיקים -מכל העדות- כן השתתפו בהילולא!
    ולכן נראה לי שהבאת דעה השלילית שלהם, אינו במקום

    • Treasures of Ashkenaz Says:

      כבוד הרי”ג שליט”א

      שלום וברכה, ברוכים הבאים בשם ה

      כבוד הוא לנו לשמוע מכב’ על מנהגי הקהילות השונות

      Your point that the goings on today in Meron on Lag Baomer are not the original Sepharadic/Mizrachi form of marking of the day either, as per the Arizal, since he learned Zohar with his chevra then, etc., is well taken.

      I would also mention that the minhag Arizal is not to have haircutting through all of sefirah, including Lag Baomer, so if things would be conducted there על פי האר”י there would be no upsherin, or haircutting at all. Also, I saw at a kabbalah oriented blog (‘An Aspiring Mekubal’, see here) that according to Arizal there would not be music and dancing on Lag Baomer either, as refraining from them stretches through the entire sefirah, including Lag Ba’omer, as with haircutting. So it is clear that the mass celebration there nowadays is not in accordance with the shita of the Arizal in more ways than one.

  5. Richie Says:

    As regards Tachanun, it is also said at Mincha on the day before Lag Be”omer.

  6. Rafi Says:

    Do you have anything about the minhag ashkenaz regarding why and when to eat dairy meals on Shavuos?

  7. Sal Says:

    There are shittos other than the Chasam Sofer and those quoted (obviously). Anyone who holds only of the Chasam Sofer should obviously follow his shitta on this.

    Anyone else should follow their own rabbonim’s shittos. And many of those are to make a celebration and bonfire. (And don’t rely on wikipedia.)

    • Treasures of Ashkenaz Says:

      It is not only the Chasam Sofer that stands opposed to the new Lag Baomer fads. It is the shita of Ashkenazim in general, Yekkes, Oberlanders, Litvaks…even portions of the Sepharadic community, and important Chasidic segments as well.

      So actually the mesorah of a giant amount of Yidden are against the bonfires and similar things (some oppose just some of the new aspects). What is happening, and this is the problem, is that the bonfires are being pushed on masses of those whose minhog is opposed to them, by various kinds of hype, phony advertising, modern mass marketing campaigns, and manipulation. People are being deceived. And that is very wrong.

    • adcwonk Says:

      In answer to Sal, looking for other shitos that support what you’re saying here: at, R. Yehuda Spitz notes (in the very last footnote):

      “See also Rav Ovadia Yosef zt”l’s Shu”t Yabia Omer (vol. 5: O.C. 35) and Shu”t Yechaveh Daas (vol. 5: 35), where he wrote very strongly against going up to Meron on Lag B’Omer.”

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