HILLULA (Aram. הִלּוּלָא, "festivity"), especially a wedding celebration (cf. Ber. 30b–31a). Later the term was also used for the anniversary of the death of famous rabbis and scholars because such occasions were often celebrated by popular pilgrimages and rejoicings. According to a late homiletic interpretation (Moses Alsheikh on Job 30:23) the death of a saintly man is a kind of "mystical marriage" of his soul with God. Public hillula celebrations take place on Lag ba-Omer, the traditional anniversary of the death of R. Simeon b. Yoḥai (see *Hillula de-Rabbi Shimon bar Yoḥai), and on the 14th of Iyyar, the anniversary of the death of R. *Meir Ba'al ha-Nes, at their respective gravesides in Meron and Tiberias, in Galilee. Outside Palestine, this anniversary was observed with great solemnity in the Jewish community of Djerba (Tunisia). It consisted of a procession with a richly ornamented candlestick (menorat Shimon bar Yoḥai), which was followed by eating and drinking with musical accompaniment. A similar hillula was observed in Libya and Morocco (and now in Israel) on the first day after Passover, called *Maimuna in honor of the anniversary of the death of Maimonides, who died on Passover.
J.T. Levinsky (ed.), Sefer ha-Mo'adim, 6 (1956) 407–46.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.