The most important site on Mount Meron—and one of the holiest places in Israel—is the Tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, survivor of the Bar Kochba Revolt of almost 2,000 years ago. The simple building that houses the tomb is a place for quiet reflection and prayer, though you may encounter a bar mitzvah or other festive event in the courtyard outside. Women and men have separate prayer areas, and all are expected to dress modestly (coverups are available for those who don't have them). Signs point to the Tomb of Rashbi, which is the Hebrew acronym of the rabbi's name.
Bar Yochai is said to have fled from the Romans with his son Elazar after the fall of Jerusalem to a cave at Peki'in, not far from here, where he remained for 13 years. The faithful, beginning with the 16th-century mystics who settled in Tzfat, believe that from his cave-hideout Bar Yochai penned the Zohar (The Book of Splendor), his commentary on the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. Others
claim that the Zohar dates from 13th-century Spain. Nevertheless, the constant flow of visitors is evidence of the pilgrims' devotion to the great rabbi and rebel.
The pilgrimage is still celebrated en masse on Lag Ba'Omer, the festive 33rd day of the seven solemn weeks that begin with Passover. At this time Mount Meron comes alive as a grand procession arrives on foot from Tzfat, with many participants carrying Torah scrolls and singing fervently. Bonfires are lighted, with celebrations lasting days. Many ultra-Orthodox Jews still uphold the tradition of bringing their three-year-old sons here on Lag Ba'Omer for their first haircuts.
Off Rt. 89, Mount Meron, 1391000, Israel