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The significance of the day in Meron

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Rabbi Ari Shvat

Iyyar 25, 5781
Question
To my understanding, which I admit is limited, we celebrate lag BOmer because that’s when the passing of the students stopped. So what does it mean that on the day we were celebrating the cessation of passing away, so many of our own were taken away? I understand the way it seemingly looks is that there were simply too many people in a place not equipped for that capacity, but there must be a reason why this happened on that day. We can’t just accept that it was just poor planning and lack of tools, this to me is a message from Hashem, I just don’t know what that message is. I feel like we can’t just come away from this tragedy thinking don’t go into overly crowded areas, there must be something more we are meant to learn and do, no?
Answer
We obviously don't know the entire picture, and every tragedy should be used as a catalyst for soul-searching and improvement. But the Rambam (Guide for the Perplexed 3, 12) writes that almost all of the problems and bad in the world are done by people to each-other and to themselves, and it's also up to us to prevent! That's what free-will is about. Anyone who was ever in Meron on Lag BaOmer, knows that on that day in that place, certain areas are more crowded than anything you will ever see in life! I admit that I had a rousing spiritual experience there, but hosting, past years, 400,000 people in an area which legally holds just 1/40th of that number, is criminal. Accordingly, we (police, Hatzala, religious leadership, government, parents and the participants themselves!) should have foreseen this scenario, and made sure that less people are allowed to come together at the same time in the same place. We should not have relied on the miracles that in the past, there were few casualties. I'm sure that the lessons will be learned and things will be done differently, but all we can do right now is cry and comfort each other, and help the killed, wounded and their families! With Love of Israel!
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