HILLULA DE-RABBI SHIMON BAR YOḤAI, THE FESTIVITY
HILLULA DE-RABBI SHIMON BAR YOḤAI, THE FESTIVITY (*hillula) of R. *Simeon b. Yoḥai held in *Meron on *Lag ba-Omer. It originated in the 16th–17th centuries. As early as in the time of Isaac *Luria (16th century) Jews went on Lag ba-Omer to the traditional graves of R. Simeon b. Yoḥai and his son R. Eleazar, where they would "eat, drink, and be merry." Even Luria himself "brought his small son there together with his whole family and they cut his hair there according to the well-known custom and they spent a day of feasting and celebration" (R. Ḥayyim Vital, Sha'ar ha-Kavvanot, 2 (1963), 191). The "kindling" is characteristic of the hillula in Meron, where the celebrants threw costly garments and money into the burning oil. At the end of the 19th century the rabbis were still strongly protesting the burning of clothes, which they saw as a transgression against the prohibition of purposeless waste, but to no avail. The "kindling" is accompanied by singing and ecstatic dancing. On the next day the ceremony of ḥalaqa (from Arabic "to cut hair") is held in which young boys are given their first haircut. The locks of hair are also thrown in the fire. In Israel great numbers from the various communities make the pilgrimage to Meron.
J. Braslavi (Braslavski), Le-Ḥeker Arẓenu, Avar u-Seridim (1954), 342–58; J.T. Levinsky (ed.), Sefer ha-Mo'adim, 6 (1956), 336–441; A. Yaari, in: Tarbiz, 31 (1961/62), 72–101; M. Benayahu, in: Sefunot, 6 (1962), 9–40.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.