We watched with much amusement Thursday afternoon as a truck was unloaded in the lot adjacent to our building, primarily used by the Chassidic school next door. What fun the students were having removing the wood scraps and boards that was its cargo. Imagine, a whole truck dedicated to delivering wood scraps for Lag Ba’Omer bonfires!
On Friday we watched intermittently as they hauled the wood to another spot and proceeded to build a pyre. This, it turned out, was serious business. As the first level was built probably a yard or more in height (don’t know what that is in meters), the scrap wood was encircled by what looked like a row of old window frames with a layer of wood on top, neatly covering the contents inside; the second level built on the foundation that was the first level, was smaller in diameter, but just as high and solid. On top of that, the third level was even smaller in diameter, encircled in wood like the other two and covered on top as well. I could not fathom putting a match to that. Wasn’t that just a little bit too big to set ablaze next to the trees? (In the States they would never allow this. )
Motzoei Shabbat (Saturday night after the Sabbath was over) was the start of Lag Ba’Omer. We watched as kids lit small fires in various parts of the lot and barbeques were burning. Several families brought tables and chairs into the lot as well and proceeded to picnic.
The pyre was finally lit and as the blaze grew I could feel its heat, five flights up. The flames danced and bent in the wind, thank G-d not in the direction of the nearby tree. And the music played; there was singing and clapping and dancing. I watched the fire as it diminished but I understand that it was not totally out till the wee hours of the morning.
Sunday, all that was left was a pile of ash. Even today, a week later, remnants of that Lag Ba’Omer pyre are still evident, as are remnants of the smaller ones. Although the pyre is physically gone, I can still envision it. And I think to myself “how different the fabric of life is here”. And it fills my heart with warmth.