Delaying Lag B'Omer Bonfires - Loving Our Neighbors
Rav Chaim Soloveichik made a shul announcement this past shabbat that the Chief Rabbinate had asked that everyone celebrates their Lag Baomer bonfires on Sunday evening in place of Motzei Shabbat.
Rav Chaim then spoke on the topic of "Love your neighbor as yourself" - which features in the weekly torah portion.
Rav Chaim told us about Rabbi Spektor of Beit Shemesh who, many years ago, discussed the latest alterations being made at that time to the first eiruv around the new Ramat Beit Shemesh neighborhood with Rav Chaim.
Rav Spektor said that the existing eruv is certainly kosher, but it used many "kulot" leniencies, because of the state of construction of Ramat Bet Shemesh. Rav Spektor explained that since there are many people in Beit Shemesh who are not shabbat observant and would carry objects in the public areas regardless of the existence of an eiruv, he rushed to have a sufficient eruv to ensure that people carrying would not be breaking shabbat by so doing.
As soon as he was able, Rav Spektor upgraded the standard of the eiruv, meeting many stringencies, allowing more residents to rely on the eruv.
Rav Chaim continued that someone had asked him at that time - why should Rav Spektor be concerned about people who are not shabbat observant? If it doesn't bother them to carry on shabbat, why should it both Rav Spektor?!
Rav Chaim said that loving others as ourselves doesn't mean we should look after just our families, our community, our camp...it means we should look out for every Jew.
That's why it was important to Rav Spektor to make an eiruv even if only the non Shabbat observant community was going to benefit from it. It was not a kiruv (outreach) exercise to make them more observant. However, because Rav Spektor cares deeply about ALL the Jews of Beit Shemesh, he addressed their spiritual needs, without any coercion and even without their knowledge or appreciation.
Similarly, in the case of Lag BaOmer.
No-one in the Soloveichik community needs to be concerned that their children would break shabbat in order to prepare or light their bonfires (on Saturday night).
However, there are many people who would not know better, and would certainly break shabbat if Lag BaOmer bonfires were carried out on Saturday night.
We are all one "Am", one nation, and we need to care and watch out for each other.
It is therefore important that everyone accords with the instructions of the Chief Rabbinate by making their bonfires on Sunday afternoon/evening - in order to be shoulder-to-shoulder with all of our fellow Jews, both observant and non-observant.
"V'Ahavat L'reiecha" - Love you neighbor as yourself.