JEUSALEM (VINnews) — It was reported on Kikar Hashabat that a number of people and organizations had petitioned the Supreme Court against the Lag B’Omer closure on the area of Meron and Kever Rashbi, especially on behalf of those who want to be there for the chalaka,the traditional haircut for a child that reaches the age of 3 years old.
The petitioners claimed that the closure damages freedom of religious worship and is discriminatory against those who wish to participate in the memorial of Rashbi vs the general public that does not. Another claim is that some Admorim are being let in to participate but no criteria was published for how people can qualify for such a permit, and why should some people be allowed in but not others.
Another claim, specifically made regarding the chalaka, is that the chalaka is limited by time and the custom is Lag B’Omer by Kever Rashbi, not the week or month after and not somewhere else – it should be allowed, as there is no alternative to the custom as it is.
The State responded by stating the obvious fear of the spread of COVID-19, especially at events with masses of people and also demonstrated how social distancing has worked to prevent the spread of the virus. The State explained that it decided to have small lightings, one for each participating community – Sefardic, Chassidic and Religious Zionist, each with equal numbers of minimal participants.
The State added that despite the importance of the freedom of religious worship, when it conflicts with other more important rights, such as the right to life, the freedom of worship can be limited. With the State allowing some bonfires at Kever Rashbi in a limited fashion, it claimed that it is not preventing the freedom of worship but rather limiting it due to the serious public health concerns.
The State commented that the right to prayer is not being stopped, as people can continue to pray, just not there. Halacha also recognizes the concept of pikuach nefesh. The State specifically pointed to the official Chief Rabbis, and even Rav Chaim Kanievsky, who stated that Pikuach nefesh is more important and Meron should be closed and shut down to personal attendance this year.
Interestingly, the State pointed to Rav Chaim Kanievsky to “prove” that the rabbonim say this year it is prohibited. Rav Chaim Kanievsky has some sort of status for everybody, but he is really one of the rabbinic leaders of the Litvishe community, not the Sefardic or the Chassidic communities(even if they respect him greatly). The Litvishe community isn’t even one of the groups that got a bonfire allocation, showing how little the Litvishe community thinks of this as important, yet the State pointed to Rav Chaim Kanievsky’s “issur” to placate the Hassidic and Sefardic petitioners…