Meron:  What Future?  And An Alternative Suggestion

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By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5tjt.com

The following article will probably be viewed by some as controversial – but it must be expressed.  It is also not a blame the victim thought – chas veshalom, or a blame anyone thought.  The author had previously penned a translation of HaGaon HaRav Aharon Kotler zt”l that what we should be doing now is to be empathizing greatly with the family members of the 45 korbanos and those injured, and be noseh b’ol chaveiro.

But the truth is that one does not have to be an expert in Israeli politics to predict what will probably happen at and before Lag BaOmer Meron 5782:

THE WORST CASE SCENARIO

The Israeli government will try to take over everything.  There will be major hafganot protesting the planned government takeover.  Highways will be blocked.  There will be screaming and shouting.  The government will justify itself by saying to the Chareidi Torah world, “It was your pressure on us that caused this dangerous situation to continue!”

The Chareidi world will respond, “Quite the opposite!  It was who caused these deaths with your own policies! Your police even admitted it!”

And Chillul Hashem and chaos will likely ensue.

=== An innocent Child is Suffering.  Insurance Won’t Cover it. Please Help if You Can. ===

https://thechesedfund.com/zechornilah/adifficultsituation

BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY

But if we follow true halacha – all of this can be avoided.  If the Chareidi leadership on its own realizes that what we find in Aicha Rabba (2:13) is actually true, “im yomar lecha adam: Chochma baGoyim – Taamin – if a person says to you that the gentile secular world has wisdom – believe it.”

Specifically, there are experts in crowd management who know exactly what needs to be done in order to avoid stampedes.  There are experts who know what types of tweaks are needed in order to save human life.  There are people, educated people with Phd degrees that can survey and inspect any venue or building and can determine its safety and structural integrity in order to save lives and to avoid tragedies.

What we need to do is have the Chareidi world engage these experts.  We should hire them and bring them down to Meron for recommendations.  It shouldn’t be the Israeli government or the police or the IDF, it should be us.

If we were to do this, it would be a source of enormous Kiddush Shaim Shamayim – because it shows the truth that the Torah lifestyle values life above all.  We should be the ones to have these experts issue the report showing and demonstrating how most crowding and stampeding disasters can be prevented by implementing simple crowd management strategies.

We should be the ones showing the world that there people should be assessing the nature of the spaces being used – and how their exact people-handling capabilities are.

We should be the ones hiring the experts who tell us if the entrances and exits are adequate.

We should be the ones implementing ticket collection – because tickets actually save lives.

We and the experts we hire should be asking the questions: How best should barriers be employed?

The truth of the matter is that the police and the civil authorities often do not have a clue in these matters.  Let’s look around and see that criminals that have been incapacitated and are dangerously ill are often left to lay around before medical experts even arrive.

WHY AREN’T WE DOING WHAT WE USUALLY DO?

The Chareidi population are usually the ones to run to the very best doctors and treatments – why are we not doing it here?

SIMCHA HALLS TOO

And it is not just at funerals and lag BaOmer – the structures of our simcha halls are also somewhat questionable.  How many times have we been at a chasuna where we have actually felt the floor go up and down?  Didn’t this happen a few years ago in Yerushalayim?  Why aren’t we the first ones to ensure that a chasunah hall is structurally sound?

We have to realize that staffing matters – and training as well.  Won’t people listen to fellow frum people, unzerer, trained for these things more so than those where there is an unfortunate mutual antagonism?  My personal feeling is that an organization like Hatzolah should be professionally trained and paid for this type of activity.

COMMUNICATIONS

There should also be communication between those who attend and the trained staff.  There should also be some sort of constant monitoring of the event and what is going on in the crowd.  There should be a command center – an awareness of pressure points, the nature of the floor – and if need be special draining or rubber matting.  There should be triple language instructions given out.

Some people may say that this is an overreaction.  But is it?  If it can safe just one life – it is worth it.  Look at all the pain, the devastation.

SIX STEPS

There are six steps that can be implemented to resolve the situation. We should do the following:

1] We should identify the experts, world class professionals in the field.

2] We should fly them out to Meron, and then to the levaya venues, and then eventually to the chasunah halls.

3] If we don’t have the funds – we should have someone from an organization like Hatzolah organize it all –  on TheChessedFund and plan it so that the major players will be on board.

4] The report should be written up and gone over again and again – the same way we go over a chaburah or a sefer – looking at it form every angle (or a business plan)

5] We should present this plan and perhaps politically force the government to fund it because it involves the safety of Klal Yisroel

6] We should also export the information we obtain to other countries and people so that we can be an or la’amim – and show them that we, a Torah nation, believe that life is precious.

THE FIVE MITZVOS INVOLVED

  • Lo Saamod al dam rayacha. Do not stand idly by your brother’s blood.’ There is a negative mitzvah of not standing idly by your brother’s blood (Vayikra 19:16). This is mentioned in Shulchan Aruch (C.M. 426:1) and in the Rambam. If people get trampled upon and rachmana litzlan die because of our inaction, we are violating the commandment of “Lo sa’amod al dam rei’echa.” Didn’t we learn this when people were niftar at our levayos in the past few years?
  • Hashavas Aveidah. The mitzvah is not just for lost items. The verse in Parashas Ki Seitzei (Devarim 22:2) discusses the mitzvah of hashavas aveidah, returning a lost object, with the words, “V’hasheivoso lo,” “and you shall return it to him.” The Gemara in Sanhedrin (73a), however, includes within its understanding of these words the obligation of returning “his own life to him as well.” For example, if thieves are threatening to pounce upon him, there is an obligation of “V’hasheivoso lo.” This verse is the source for the mitzvah of saving someone’s life. It is highly probable that it is to this general mitzvah that the Shulchan Aruch refers in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 325.
  • Lo Suchal L’hisalem.’ There is yet another negative commandment associated with the positive commandment of hashavas aveidah, and that is the verse in Devarim (22:3), “You cannot shut your eyes to it.” This verse comes directly after the mitzvah of hashavas aveidah. The Netziv, Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Yehudah Berlin, in his HeEmek She’eilah, refers to this mitzvah as well.
  • V’chai Achicha Imach.’ Rav Achai Gaon in his She’iltos (She’ilta #37), based upon the Gemara in Bava Metzia 62a, understands the words in Vayikra (25:36), “v’chai achicha imach,” “and your brother shall live with you,” to indicate an obligation to save others with you. The Netziv in his HeEmek She’eilah understands it as a full-fledged obligation according to all opinions. He writes that one must exert every effort to save his friend’s life, until it becomes a matter of pikuach nefesh for himself. The Netziv’s position would certainly advocate flying in the expert.
  • V’ahavta L’rei’acha Kamocha.’ The Ramban, in Toras HaAdam Sha’ar HaSakanah (pp. 42–43), understands the verse of “And love thy neighbor as yourself” as a directive to save our peers from medical danger as well.

We thus have a total of five Torah mitzvos involved in flying in such an expert.  If anyone out there has a connection to the organizers and planners – please reach out.  This author believes he has identified the perfect person to fly out for this and has reached out to him.

May we only have yeshuos and nechamos from now on in regard to these matters.

=== An innocent Child is Suffering.  Insurance Won’t Cover it. Please Help if You Can. ===

https://thechesedfund.com/zechornilah/adifficultsituation

The author can be reached at [email protected]


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