I am crying a year later after the Meron tragedy

I am very angry because I know there were human errors that caused the deaths.

 A SIGN warns of construction work at the Meron site for the coming week’s Lag Ba’omer celebrations, in this photo taken last month. Guardians of the site assure us that the new rules and the essential ‘missing’ construction has been completed. (photo credit: David Cohen/Flash90)
A SIGN warns of construction work at the Meron site for the coming week’s Lag Ba’omer celebrations, in this photo taken last month. Guardians of the site assure us that the new rules and the essential ‘missing’ construction has been completed.
(photo credit: David Cohen/Flash90)

Hard as it is to believe, a year has passed since the terrible tragedy at Meron. As it happened by accident, I was watching television and witnessed many people forced to stomp and crush others of all ages while trying to escape what had become a narrow channel of death. Just a few days ago, I looked up Meron on the internet.

On the Chabad website, I found the visual and written description of what occurred in this most horrible tragedy. The website became very moving, when it provided a picture and short bio of each person who was killed mercilessly. Then, to increase our anguish, there was a picture of the body bags with the corpses lined up in perfect order. I was not prepared for what I saw – my tears poured down sitting at my desk.

As so many wiser than I am have asked – where was God when these men, old and young, firmly committed to Judaism through their observance of the Commandments, were stuffed together and died next to a most holy site?

I am very angry because I know there were human errors that caused the deaths. Perhaps, it was not God, but some of our fellow Israelis. When we break the rules of the universe, as was did at Meron, broken bodies and broken hearts are the result.

Still, I am not satisfied and ask where was God? I quote Rabbi Sidney Greenberg with a little emendation, “God is in the dependability and the orderliness of the universe He created. God is in the outpouring of grief that millions of us felt for the families of those who were killed. God is in the tears that all of us shed, the caring that was expressed, the sense of impoverishment that flooded so many lives.”

 Candles are lit at the place of the disaster, at the Rashbi gravesite in Meron, Northern Israel, on March 02, 2022. (credit: DAVID COHEN/FLASH 90) Candles are lit at the place of the disaster, at the Rashbi gravesite in Meron, Northern Israel, on March 02, 2022. (credit: DAVID COHEN/FLASH 90)

Greenberg goes a bit further. “God is in the awareness that this tragedy brought home to all of us that we are frail and fragile creatures, whose lives hang by a slender thread and that we do not know how soon it will be too late to do all we were meant to do on this earth.”

As an Israeli citizen who saw his fellow citizens die, I am unsatisfied that the hearings on the Meron tragedy pointed to the real culprits. Sadly, we will never know, because this has become a political issue rather than an act of carelessness that could have been avoided. I think what we need is God pointing at those who have salved their conscience rather than receiving the punishment they deserved.

Lag Ba’omer is quickly approaching. There are the important guardians of the site who assure us that the new rules and the essential missing construction has been completed. We hear that thousands of police and border guards have been assigned for duty on the night of the festival on May 18.

What we do not know, is how the attendees will act. When my late wife and I were at Meron in 1964, there were many attendees. They acted with concern and courtesy, so the night passed with only a few problems, but no tragedy. I believe that everyone who feels that it is their spiritual need to be at Meron should be allowed to attend. However, if they forget the lessons of last year, then tragedy may occur at the site again.

Will God be present? I hope so. Mostly I would expect that those attending, who believe in God, Creator of the Universe, should act as if they are being closely viewed for their prayers and also for acting through their good traits. I am not well enough to attend, but again in my home I will view it at Meron on my TV the night and early dawn. O God, I so hope that I will not have to cry again.