Mount Meron Disaster

Certain practices of "Kabbalah" have apparently become dangerous.

On Lag B'Omer in 2021, a terrible tragedy occurred in Mount Meron in Israel. Some 45 people were killed after a stampede broke out as massive crowds gathered at the Mount Meron Kabbalistic bonfire-lighting ceremony for the "holiday" of Lag B'Omer.

I refer to the bonfire-lighting ceremony as Kabbalistic because I do not believe there is any reference to it in the Talmud or the standard halachic codes. The Talmud in Yevamot 62b only refers to the students of Rabbi Akiva dying during a period between Pesach and Shavuot. The Lag B'Omer celebrations in Meron allegedly are connected to the yahrtzeit of the Talmudic Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.

Baruch Dayan Emet. This was a huge tragedy and of course we must mourn the dead and assist the survivors. However, perhaps it is also time to speak the truth about the negative consequences of unrestrained "Kabbalah".

One can't help but wonder-

How can halacha allow us to celebrate the death of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai? Where did Chazal even say that Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai passed away on Lag B'Omer? Where did Chazal tell us to light fires and spread air pollution all over on Lag B'Omer?

In a Tosephta, the ancient rabbis ruled that dancing around a bonfire is "darchei Amorai" (the ways of the pagan Amorites).

אלו דברים מדרכי האמורי המספר קומי והעושה בלורית [והמגבה] לגרגרן והמגררת בנה [בין] המתים והקושר [מטולטלת על יריכו וחוט אדום על אצבעו והמונה ומשליך צרורות לים או לנהר הרי זה מדרכי] האמורי המספק והמטפח והמרקד לשלהבת ה"ז מדרכי האמורי. (Tosephta, Shabbat 7:1)

The so-called Kabbalah being popularized to the masses all over the Internet nowadays cannot be the authentic "nistar" (Torah secrets) that the Talmudic rabbis knew, because the Talmudic rabbis prohibited teaching the "nistar" publicly. Authentic Judaism opposes teaching "mysticism" publicly because this inevitably leads to idolatry.

אֵין דּוֹרְשִׁין בָּעֲרָיוֹת בִּשְׁלֹשָׁה וְלֹא בְּמַעֲשֵׂה בְרֵאשִׁית בִּשְׁנַיִם וְלֹא בַּמֶּרְכָּבָה בְּיָחִיד אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הָיָה חָכָם וּמֵבִין מִדַּעְתּוֹ כׇּל הַמִּסְתַּכֵּל בְּאַרְבָּעָה דְּבָרִים רָתוּי לוֹ כְּאִילּוּ לֹא בָּא לָעוֹלָם מָה לְמַעְלָה מָה לְמַטָּה מָה לְפָנִים וּמָה לְאָחוֹר וְכׇל שֶׁלֹּא חָס עַל כְּבוֹד קוֹנוֹ רָתוּי לוֹ שֶׁלֹּא בָּא לָעוֹלָם: (Talmud, Chagigah 11b)

Are we supposed to believe that the Kabbalists now have Torah secrets that the Rambam over 800 years ago claimed were lost?

If these Torah secrets really existed at the time of the Rambam, how is it possible that the Rambam would not have known they existed (regardless if he accepted them or not)?

"They have clearly stated that the Divine Chariot includes matters too deep and too profound for the ordinary intellect. It has been shown that a person favoured by Providence with reason to understand these mysteries is forbidden by the Law to teach them except viva voce, and on condition that the pupil possess certain qualifications, and even then only the heads of the sections may be communicated. This has been the cause why the knowledge of this mystery has entirely disappeared from our nation, and nothing has remained of it. " (Rambam, Guide for the Perplexed, Part 3 Introduction)

The Mount Meron disaster only raises more questions about the legitimacy of certain "Kabbalistic" practices.

Mount Meron Disaster