23 Kislev 5782 / Saturday, November 27, 2021 | Torah Reading: Vayeishev
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HomeHolidays and Fast DaysLag B'OmerAlmost in Meron
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Almost in Meron    

Almost in Meron

My husband and I had tickets for a bus from Beitar to Meron leaving at 1pm on Lag B'Omer. But hundreds of people were waiting, and there were no buses…


It started out like a normal Lag B'Omer.  My husband and I had tickets for a bus from Beitar to Meron leaving at 1pm, similar to the past.  But this time, hundreds of people were waiting, and there were no buses.  After half hour in the hot sun, one bus pulled up and stopped, both doors swarmed by dozens of men.  Forget that one.


Another half hour, another lone bus, and another few hundred people.  Finally one bus lurched to a stop near us.  We shuffled toward the separate men's and women's entrances, trying to keep each other in sight among the surge.  But then I stopped.  I knew if I got pushed, or if I pushed anyone, I would remain with a negative feeling that would last the whole year.  Like last time.  So we waited some more.  A few empty buses pulled up, and slowly continued past, without stopping.  Just teasing!


After an hour, I suggested we drive.  Many of the families waiting had three year old sons in their best clothes, waiting to go to Meiron for their first haircut.  Others, like us, were continuing an annual tradition of rejoicing with thousands of others at the kever of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai on this special day.  But this year, it was a little different.  I had a specific prayer and request to say, and was looking forward to being able to pray at an auspicious time and place such as Lag B'Omer in Meiron.  We decided to wait another half hour.  Still no buses and still more hopeful travelers in sight.  So we went home and got in the car.  (Baruch Hashem, we have a car!)


After traveling to Jerusalem to see if we could catch a bus from there, and finding a similar scenario with many people waiting and no buses in sight, it was nearing 4pm and if we didn't rush, we wouldn't get to Meiron before sunset and the end of Lag B'Omer.  So we drove off, enjoying the scenery and light traffic.  I calculated we'd hopefully make it just in time to find parking and make it up the mountain by foot before sunset.  And then we hit a traffic jam – pkak in Hebrew.  Very fitting word.  We inched forward as the sun inched downward in the sky.  Oh well, it was still a beautiful drive and nice fresh air, and I didn't get car sick from bumping along in the back of a bus.  I tried to find the good points in our state of affairs. 


Finally, we were moving again!  There's still hope!  But the kilometers remaining to our destination on the GPS were not going down nearly as fast as the sun was setting.  By the time we reached Carmiel, we had to stop and find a minyan for mincha.  With Hashem's loving help, we found one with a minyan exactly on time.  By then I had given up on reaching Meiron by sunset, but still hoped for a chance to pray near Rabbi Shimon that evening.


We continued on, and at last reached a sign leading to Meiron and the holy gravesite of the Rashbi (Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai).  At last!  But the ramp was blocked by police.  After waiting for many long minutes to reach the exit, we were told we had to drive to Tzfat, park there and take a shuttle back to Meiron.  Reluctantly, we continued north.  And when we reached the next exit ramp a number of kilometers further on, the police told us to drive further north to Hatzor and take a shuttle from there.  It was by then completely dark and almost 9 pm.  We had at least a three hour drive home, plus however long more to drive and wait for who knew how long for a shuttle bus to Meiron, and what about a shuttle back to Hatzor?  My husband, the clearer thinker at this point, decided we should turn around and go home.


Go home?  After all this waiting and driving and hoping?  I was so disappointed I couldn't speak.  But it only made sense.  So we turned around at the entrance to Rosh Pina and got back on the highway toward Meiron, still hoping by some sliver of a chance that we might be allowed to take the Meiron exit on the way home, park a little closer and walk the rest of the way.  But the same police and same roadblocks met us on the other side of the highway, and so, blinking back tears of disappointment and longing, I reset the GPS to go home and continued in the dark down the road.  But wait, I thought.  Shouldn't we at least stop to say our prayers close to Meron?  At least, near the sign leading there? 


We searched for a suitable place to pull over, meanwhile missing an exit and making an unexpected detour in the dark on a curvy road.  The next exit was a few minutes ahead, so we decided to stop after making the turn.  And what did we find?  A small parking lot with other Meiron travelers.  "Look!" My husband said, "There are kivrei tzaddikim here!"  We got out to explore, and found an enclosed yard with two small square stone structures with the familiar Tzfat-blue half-domes on top.  They were the gravesites of Rav Chalafta and his sons.  We found a large bench to sit and pray.  For sure, my kavana at that time, in the cold and dark, was much greater than it would have been in a place of simcha and half a million other people.  And to see how, in the cold and dark, along the winding roads of the Galilee, Hashem brought us to this special place, after a 'wrong' turn.  I felt comforted, knowing that our path that day, and every day, is directed from Above, in ways that we could never have expected.  And it gave me hope and encouragement that the same G-d who led us to this place and time, would also answer the prayers we prayed then and there.

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  Davening is always heard & directed by Hashem!
Naomi7/19/2016 8:44:31 PM

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