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Last year, we discussed the bonfires. Celebrating the passing of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the Heelulah, is best done with huge Yahrzeit candles. The bonfire is thus the ultimate Yahrzeit candle, and the number one way to celebrate Lag BOmer, the day of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai's passing. It's bigger than a shot glass and it brings more happiness to the celebration of death.
This year, we will focus on the traditions of bows and arrows to commemorate the life of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. There are other dangerous traditions that some have, like singing and haircuts. We will focus on three-year-olds crying another time.
Bereishit Rabba (35:2) says that not a single rainbow appeared in the sky during the lifetime of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. Many spiritual artists blamed him for this. Tzfat is the artist capital of Israel and he was living right near it, in Meron, and he killed the multicolored semicircles market. Many spiritual people love the rainbow, and the artists had nothing to go on. Sales went down, as all they had to draw were stuck to still lifes and flowers.
Only later on did Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai receive the appreciation he deserved for presenting the Kabbalah to the people, when a whole world of artists would make millions off the ten ten sefirot (emanations of God). They would circle it and sell it. And then they would make thousands more by going to a print shop and printing their art, and selling that too.
No rainbow is a good thing. The rainbow is a sign from the times of Noah, that God's won't destroy the world. It was the covenant, and God shows it every time he wants to kill us. Every time somebody gets cut off in traffic by a selfish individual who skipped the off-ramp line, a rainbow appears. A rainbow is thus also a good thing, as I would shoot them.
When God wants to destroy the world, now, He shows us a colorful thing in the sky, so that everybody can talk about how great it is. It's on account of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai's (we're going to call him the Rashbi from now on- when you acronymize a name of a rabbi, it shows they're important) merits that H' didn't want to destroy the world during his lifetime. If the world not being destroyed was contingent on the shul president, we would all be goners.
Bows Are All The Same
The Hebrew word for rainbow is 'Keshet,' which also means bow. As the shooting of an arrow represents a rainbow with no colors, there is a tradition for the children to go out and play with bows and arrows, to add to the danger of uncontained fires. Side note: You can also give them plastic bags to throw in the fire.
Why not have people play a violin? You don't shoot a violin bow. We also don't go to McDonald's, even though they have arches which are like a yellow rainbow, because it's not kosher. We also don't eat Lucky Charms, even with their rainbow, because they're not kosher, and it's really hard to injure somebody with them. You’ve got to take that sugar rainbow and poke them real hard for them to even feel a pinch.
Ideas for Childhood Danger
As the main focus of the holiday is about safety hazards, here are more ways to celebrate the Heelulah of the Rashbi:
Stick a Lego in the middle of the floor and have them step on it.
Allow them to leave their toys out, and then run around. Maybe it will give them a chance to step on the figurines this time.
Let them go to the jungle gym attended. Something will happen.
Have them eat with their mouths open.
Let them build ramps. If they shoot off a ramp with a bike, that can look like a rainbow while they're hurting themselves.
Let them give each other haircuts. The larger the sizzers, the more of a chance for danger.
Give them matches. Even without a bonfire, there's a good chance they'll do something unsafe.
Whatever activity you choose, be sure to leave your children unattended. Even without an an activity, they will find something to do that's not suggested. The children in my neighborhood were running around the fire and throwing stuff at it. That was a great way to celebrate the day. Though, it would've been more fitting to shoot arrows at the fire.
Just remember, even without bows and arrows, you can recreate a safety hazard in the middle of your home by letting your children do what they want.
Countries Where You Can't Shoot Bows and Arrows on the Street
If you cannot make it to Israel, where Jewish children are free and allowed to carry weapons on Lag BOmer, I suggest that your children do not run around the streets with bows and arrows. Walking the streets of your city armed might not be legal. It also might not be legal to leave your children with uncontained fires.
If you're worried about the cops, the children should use the bows and arrows in the house. That's dangerous too. They might have already ransacked the home for their bonfire, so you don't have to worry about anything breaking.
In countries where weapons are illegal in public, I would also suggest celebrating this aspect of the Heelulah of the Rashbi (Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai) by making it more of a ribbon type of bow. Celebrate the rainbows by tying bows and ribbons. Maybe even send the bows to people in your neighborhood who are bad Jews, to let them know about the tradition, with a note telling them that they're the reason we see rainbows.
If you're living in a dangerous country, with a lot of anti-Semitism, I would suggest the kids celebrate by shooting arrows at people. A better way to celebrate the holiday would be to leave.
The most practical way to celebrate the Rashbi is to give the children a bow and arrow. The idea is a dangerous rainbow, because H' didn't destroy us. And make sure they're doing it near a fire.
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Skewers are dangerous, and should not be handled by children without parental supervision. Kids should eat schnitzel only... Even if skewers are called Shipuds in Israel, to make them sound more friendly, they are still dangerous. And with the volatile situation in Israel, people should be IDed before they're allowed a Shipud.