Words cannot describe the tremendous tzaar that we are all feeling after the tragedy in Meron this week. It is especially painful for me, as the son one of my friends from Cleveland was unfortunately killed. All too often in the face of tragedy we look back like “back seat quarterbacks,” making comments like “If only the police…,” or “Why do they allow so many people into such a narrow area?”
Such comments, while perhaps justified, should be handled by the authorities and experts in Eretz Yisroel who can plan for similar Lag BaOmer celebrations in the future. One of the most beautiful things that I heard all week was from a donor in Los Angeles who remarked that although the grief and tragedy affected the religious sector of Israel, the pain was shared by all, religious and non-religious alike.
The messaging may be different from religious leaders across the spectrum. I wanted to share a message that resonates with me. Although we are all different in our levels of observance and we often get caught up with judging books by their covers, as someone who reaches out to Jews with very different levels of religiosity, I have learned from them all. Rather than celebrating our differences we should try to focus on the areas we have in common, and I would suggest that there are many.
Another area of focus may be for us to realize that when tragedy strikes it should be a wake-up call for all of us to try to improve. Torah Umesorah sent out a special notice outlining a few areas that we as schools and families can try to do to enhance our personal growth. Please join Mrs. Weiner, Rabbi Lapin, and me in some of these activities. This is a wonderful opportunity for a home-school partnership. Let us hope that our tefillos and good deeds will be a merit for all the cholim in Eretz Yisroel still suffering from their wounds to have a speedy recovery.
A Message for Schools from Torah Umesorah
Klal Yisroel is immersed in sorrow over the recent events in Meiron, ר"לwhereby the joy of Lag BaOmer was transformed into unthinkable tragedy in mere moments, casting the pall of grief over us all.
When we are faced with horror of such magnitude, we are rendered speechless, in the spirit of וידם אהרן Thus, words at this moment can only distract us from the depth of pain felt by Jews the world over.
We should feel a sense of empathy for the tzaar, pain, of our Jewish brethren אחינו בית ישראל and strengthen our power of כאיש אחד בלב אחדlike one people. With this feeling, let us raise our voices to theבעל הרחמים Master of mercy, Hashem, with our prayersתפילות ,and may theשומע קול בכיות Guardian of Tears, watch over us as we prepare to accept the Torah on Shavuos. A speedy recovery to all of those injured.
We are joining Torah Umesorah by having each class accept upon themselves, in some small way, a positive action or project. Enclosed is a list of the various kabbolos that were accepted by our students:
- 4/5 boys – being sure to say Modeh Ani and wash Nagel Vasser daily
- 4/5 girls – listen to a daily Emunah story during Tefillah class daily
- 6 boys – begin each day with a five-minute extra-focused Gemara review
- middle-school girls – say brochos out loud during morning recess and everyone answer Amein
In addition, the boys in Grades 4–8 are participating in a special program of Masmidei HaSiyum (of Agudath Yisroel) in memory of the niftorim. The boys have been given the opportunity to commit to learn the perek of mishnayos of their choice as a zchus before the Shloshim.
I close with the words from the Torah Umesorah article. We should feel a sense of empathy for the tzaar, pain, of our Jewish brethrenאחינו בית ישראל and strengthen our power of כאיש אחד בלב אחד, like one people. With this feeling, let us raise our voices to theבעל הרחמים Master of mercy, Hashem, with our prayers and may the Guardian of Tears watch over us as we prepare to accept the Torah on Shavuos. A speedy recovery to all of those injured.
Rabbi Peretz Scheinerman