Mobbed in Meron

So, last night in Meron…
Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, the dude who hid out from the Romans in a cave for 13 years, promised great things to anyone who came to his tomb on Lag b’Omer — as long as they were happy. Very happy. I don’t know what feeling exactly that stirs up in the pit of *your* stomach, but man, was mine churning — and I mean that in a good way. Me and half a million of my closest friends came to eat massive amounts of food, build bonfires, cram into a tomb and pray. And I — not the biggest fan of people generally, and specifically egotistical people who push other people out of the way — was loving every minute of it. Like, where else would you see a huge, marshmellow-stomached Israeli guy throw a 98-pound Hasid with a beard down to his pupik out of the way so that he could throw himself, sobbing, onto a grave? I know it sounds horrible — and sometimes it was — but there was also something so beautiful about it. Five seconds later, they were chatting each other up like old friends, pumping each other’s hands and laughing about the Lag b’Omers of years past.
While outside, these old Moroccan women heaped out massive ladles of rice and vegetables and chicken, giving them to strangers like their own children. I have never seen so much free food in my life.
Okay, so. We got on the bus, and the typical bus riot was happening — if you’ve ever been in an Israeli bus station, you know what I mean. “Lines” are not something that people in Israel are so interested in. Especially in Meron. These tough old ladies started pounding on the bus, shaking it, almost toppling it over. The driver finally gave in, opened the rear door, and it was scary for a moment. No one was sure what was going to happen. Then the crowds rushed in. Somewhere along the line, my wife and I realized that our suitcase was on the bus, and we had to store it under. I started down the stairs. Bad idea, right? The mob didn’t stop. These two little ladies burst on, one pushed half a dozen garden gnome-size kids in ahead of her, and, as I was halfway down the bus stairs, this 80-year-old Orthodox lady ran straight at me. My stomach was at ground zero.
And this is me, right? The only Orthodox person on the bus who wasn’t in black and white, me with my t-shirt and jeans and this crowd just asking for bloodshed. So what could I do? Right before she hit, I screamed out, “HEY! I’M RELIGIOUS, I DON’T TOUCH WOMEN!”
There was a moment of silence.
Then the entire bus — old Hasidic ladies, stony-faced rabbis, and all — started laughing.
And that’s how I saved my little Orthodox tush.

5 thoughts on “Mobbed in Meron

  1. Mattue, Baruch Hashem, you saved your Orthodox tush from the hasidic mobs. The last hasidic bonfire I was at ignited a pile of wigs with children chearing, even my williamsburg landlord was hanging out there. there is nothing sacred about the smell of burning hair throughout Brooklyn.
    but yeah, the most underblogged about parties have got to be Meron bus cuddlepuddles.

  2. LOL
    but if you’re supposed to be happy, why were most of the women I saw there saying tehillim and sobbing their hearts out?
    guess no one taught them the happy part… or thought to prepare a place for the women to dance and rejoice.
    it was rather frustrating.

  3. hey — in all fairness, there was a bunch of crying on the men’s side, too.
    i don’t know where you were, or what your personal jewish history is like, but lag b’omer is generally regarded as a day of celebration. and most of the women i saw there were singin’ and swingin’ even more so than the menfolk.
    if i had more time to google, i’d give you a bunch of interesting and informative sites about Lag b’Omer, and why it’s supposed to be happy for both men and womyn. but, seriously, check it out — ask your friendly neighborhood rabbi, or just email mobius — i’m sure he’s got enough time on his hands to explain….

  4. and — ahron — i remember that!!! that was the same summer that there were cephalopods in the water, right?
    ah, fond memories of new york….

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