KIRYAS JOEL – Wednesday night in the Village of Kiryas Joel was lit up almost like daytime as a huge bonfire was lit and thousands of Hasidic Jews from around the east coast gathered to mark the passing of second century sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.
According to Chabad, the rabbi’s life is celebrated because on the day of his passing, he instructed his disciples to mark the date as “a day of my joy.”
The Chabad organization said the Hasidic masters explain the final day of a righteous person’s life on earth “marks the point at which all their deeds, teachings and work achieve their culminating perfection and the zenith of their impact upon our lives.” Therefore, Chabad notes, “We celebrate Rabbi Shimon’s life and the revelation of the esoteric soul of Torah.”
In Kiryas Joel, the thousands of participants sang and chanted prayers in honor of the rabbi’s life and accomplishments.
The holiday, which began at sundown on Wednesday, ended at sundown on Thursday.