Coping with the Meron Tragedy: An Open Discussion and Q&A with Rabbi Simon Jacobson

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by Jacobson, Rabbi Simon

“The [period] between Passover and Shavuos is the counting of the omer…[during which] we [mourn and] remember the 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva who perished during this period due to them not respecting one another… now we have something to mourn about during our own time…


[Rabbi Akiva’s students] did not respect one another. We learn to respect one another more than ever, we refine our characteristics, our personalities, we try to improve who we are…this terrible catastrophe, it has woken us up…


.. we are in these 49 days of refinement, preparing to receive the mandate of G-d at Sinai, coming from the Exodus from Egypt… Egypt refers to all forms of constraints, and limitations and inhibitions and fears…and all loss and tragedy. The 49 days…are meant to build us up, to rebuild our lives…


As Maimonides says, It would be cruel and insensitive to see it as just an accident but we have to see it as a wake-up call……when a catastrophe, a disaster strikes a community… we have to… look at ourselves, to be more introspective… it should make us more sensitive human beings… kinder, more compassionate, more deliberate, and to not take for granted so many of our gifts and to look at ourselves… to honor this great tragedy… to become better human beings, in how you speak to another, controlling our anger, controlling our other vices and allowing our virtue to become more powerful than our negatives.”