On the disaster in Meron

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Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

There are those who followed the news with trepidation all night long and those who got up this morning to suddenly hear about the disaster in Meron, 5781, and the many dead and wounded. The annual Lag BaOmer celebration in Meron ended in tragedy, compounded by the year of the coronavirus just ended, with its many victims. In an instant, uplifting spiritual melodies and songs were replaced by the somber recitation of psalms. Ordinarily, customs associated with mourning end on Lag BaOmer, but this year they have been extended.

I did a survey of past catastrophic events. The most difficult to absorb were the Versailles wedding hall collapse, the flash flood in Nahal Tzafit, and the Carmel fires, since disasters that are the result of human error are especially frustrating and painful. There's a feeling that we could have prevented them.

It's possible already to draw certain conclusions, whether they are based on operational blunders (why weren't the authorities better prepared?) or spiritual failings (our mourning during the Omer counting commemorates a plague brought on by lack of mutual respect, an area in which we are still sorely lacking). But it seems to me that this is not the time for clever thoughts and insights since at this moment there are dozens of families that have not yet received official notification that their dear ones are no longer among the living. Before Shabbat, dozens of painful funerals will take place for people who were full of joy when they left their homes yesterday, and who had no concept how fragile life can be. At this moment mothers are still searching for their children, hoping that maybe they are sleeping on a bus going home and therefore are not answering their phones. Then there are also the tens of thousands who were not injured, who were present on this terrible night they will never forget. And then there are the mothers who do not know what to tell their children this morning about what happened. So I have no thoughts to share this morning. There are no words of Torah, only prayers.

May He who blessed our patriarchs and matriarchs, Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Moshe and Aharon, David and Shlomo, Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel and Leah, bless and heal all of our sick, those injured in the Meron disaster, who are in urgent need of a complete recovery, as we pray for their return to complete health. In compensation for our prayers, may the Holy One, blessed be He, be full of mercy towards them and return them to complete health and heal them and strengthen them and revive them and send them immediate and total healing from heaven, together with all the sick in Israel, healing of the soul and healing of the body, healing that will come now, speedily and immediately and let us say Amen.

Shabbat shalom and good wishes to all.

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