On the Honey and the Beesting

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Lag Ba'Omer and Other Holidays Where Israelis Burn Stuff

Lag Ba'Omer Same'ach!

And, if you're Sephardi: Lag La'Omer Same'ach!

Why do they have a different greeting, you ask? Well, it turns out that Lag La'Omer Same'ach is in fact the accurate choice according to the grammatical rules of Hebrew as it was spoken before Israel came to be and changed the language, and so Sephardim get an A+ in Hebrew Grammar!

But I digress.

Lag Ba/La'Omer is the 33rd day of counting the Omer (which are sheaves of wheat. For ancient tax purposes, I think. No seriously, who would have thought that the Jews would have a few tax-related holidays? Actually, probaby the Crusaders would have hazarded a guess. Tu Bishvat is tax-related, too. I can just picture the dialogue in the Middle Ages: "Halt! Jew! We don't like you. We're going to come burn down your synagogues and kick you out of our country. Generic-Jews-And-Their-Money-Statement-Here. And you for sure have holidays about money." And the Jews are all "No we d-....Oh. Oh, right. Damn it." ), and once upon a time, there was a terrible plague and a lot of Torah scholars died but! Miraculously, on the 33rd of the Omer, the plague stopped, and so every year, Jews (at least Israelis) celebrate by...lighting bonfires. Because someone was all "This is a Good Idea." And if you're curious, that someone is probably the same someone who organized a bunch of university students to go out to the Carmel National Forest last night to light their bonfires (brilliant) and also the same someone who was all "Hey! Fireworks! Let's set them off! By the power plant!". How is it that natural selection hasn't weeded these people out, yet?

All day yesterday before dusk, there was an excess of dirty children scrabbling around looking for wood and cardboard and stuff that burns. I assume they got dirty in the process of scrabbling, and were and will continue to be ordinarily clean individuals. In Haifa, it was like the entire city was on fire, so it was quite pretty. And totally unrelated to a bunch of scholars who up and didn't die. And my question is, on the 34th day of the Omer, did they start dying again?

Whatever. Welcome to Israel. On wikipedia.com, Israel is not listed as having a national motto, and therefore I would like to put forth a suggestion: "Israel: We like to burn stuff with every opportunity that comes our way."

Case in point: Yom Ha'atzmaut! (Independance Day) The national barbeque-al ha esh-mangal day. Where more stuff is burned and set on fire (like the fireworks. Again, coincidentally close to the power plant because that is A Good Idea). Though this post is a little chronologically backwards, given that Yom Ha'atzmaut was two weeks ago. I was just too lazy to post anything. Sorry.

My Yom Ha'atzmaut: I watched the fireworks that were set off at various points around the city, which is eventful because Haifa is on a mountain, so you can see several different displays going on at the same time. Then off to a bar downtown with a bunch of friends (albeit in a really, really sketchy area of Haifa which I don't go to in the daytime and why the hell are we going all the way downtown to a bar called HaSimta which means "The Alley" because it's located in, well, an alley, and remind me why we decided that going to this bar was a wise choice?) to while the night away (read: get really, really drunk). The next morning was not quite yet "lounge on the beach" weather, but I went to the beach anyways where every square foot of lawn above the tayelet was occupied by a barbeque or a makeshift-grill and the whole beach smelled like barbequeing meat, which I really enjoy, except that it made me hungry, so we had to stop at an overpriced beach restaurant, but it was okay, because it had outside seating so I was free to people-watch, which is one of my favorite activities. Also, best humus in Haifa is on the beach boardwalks.

The moral of the story: Lag Ba/La Omer, I just don't get you. Though you do indulge my pyromaniac tendencies. And Yom Ha'atzmaut, well, you're just awesome.



Post a Comment

<< Home