The Daily Portion
On the disaster in Meron

Ordinarily,Sefira customs associated with mourning end on Lag Ba'Omer, but this year they have, tragically, been extended.

Sivan Rahav-Meir ,

Memorial Candles, Tel Aviv
Memorial Candles, Tel Aviv
/TPS Eitan Elhadir
There are those who followed the news with trepidation all night long on Thursdayand those who got up Friday morning to suddenly hear about the tragedy in Meron, 5781, and the many dead and injured.

The annual Lag Ba'Omer 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 Ba'Omer, 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 floor collapse, the flash flood in Nahal Tzafit, and the Carmel fire, 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 still families that have not yet received official notification that their dear ones are no longer among the living. Before Shabbat, painful funerals took place for people who were full of joy when they left their homes for Meron, and who had no thoughts then about how fragile life can be.

On Friday, mothers were still searching for their children, hoping that maybe they were sleeping on a bus going home and therefore were not answering their phones.

On Motsaei Shabbat, funerals took place.

Parents who live overseas had to make the painful decision about whether to put off their son's funeral until they could be present or burying their loved one as soon as possible without them.

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.

And those of us who were not there but cannot function, frozen in mourning.

And there are also those who rushed to help the families in their time of need.

So I have no thoughts to share today. 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.*

Strength and good wishes to all.

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin