Grave of Shimon Bar Yohai – Meiron, Israel
Meron, Israel: or is it Meiron, Israel? In any case, for many, when you say Meron, one thinks of the grave of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai. Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai lived way back in first century of the common era. That was the period when the Galil first became famous. The middle part of Israel, where Jerusalem is located, was no longer a safe place for rabbis and other practicing Jews due to the growing strength of the Romans. So the Galil became home to many of these rabbis. My cousin (who has lived in the Galil for about forty years) once said, quoting someone else, what is there to visit in the Galil? Caves and graves. If you visit Meron, you can find both.
Do not visit the grave of Shimon Bar Yohai on Lag B’Omer (the 33rd day of the Omer). Unless you like crowds. Of course, it was well after Lag B’Omer when my friend and I visited. The area itself wasn’t terribly crowded, but when you go inside the room with the tombs, there were quite a few people. And I’ve been told that the yeshiva in Meron closed down the week before Lag B’Omer, and security takes over the yeshiva. People camp out all over the area. But as I said, it was not Lag B’Omer, so when we decided to explore the area above the houses and buildings, we had the rocks, trees and flowers all to ourselves.
When you drive up to the village of Meron, there is lovely little shop on the right. The name of the store is something like shizeefon or little prune. And that’s what they sell! Oh, and all sorts of dried fruits and nuts, but the specialty is the prunes. I bought a nice gift to bring back to our hostess in Beit Shemesh.
Pictured above is the building that houses the grave. As it is at other religious sites in Israel, there are separate entrances for men and women. My friend suggested I prepare some change in case someone asks for money, and I gave all my change away to the first requester. It turns out there were several people here asking for money (by the way, if you go to the old city in Jerusalem, it is a good idea to have spare change available – lots of needy asking there as well. You can give U.S. money, if that’s what you happen to have). The biggest words on the sign say “In Modest Dress” – so I always bring a light cotton sweater to wear on top of my t-shirt. I wear skirts almost all the time anyway.
I didn’t take any photos inside the room with the tombs (his son Eleazer is buried here as well). I had to put away my persona as tourist and switch into religious mode – it seems what one does here is say tehillim or psalms. Others were praying Shaharit, the morning prayer.
I took photos of nature on our hike above the village, but I will save those for another post. You can visit my post of flora of Mount Meron. Meanwhile, if you have photos of Jewish subject matter on your blog, there will be an edition of JPiX, the Jewish Photo Bloggers Carnival, posted on this blog on June 30th. You can submit posts to JPiX using the form on the JPiX page.