21 Av 5781 / Friday, July 30, 2021 | Torah Reading: Eikev
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HomeFoundations of JudaismJewish OutlookThe Response to the Meron Tragedy
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The Response to the Meron Tragedy    

The Response to the Meron Tragedy

What do we do now? What comfort can we give to the families of those who lost loved ones in the disaster? How can we avoid a bigger tragedy?


Editor’s Note: In From Celebration… to Day of Mourning, I explained Rabbi Arush’s answer to the initial question of: “How do we understand what happened?” In this translation, Rabbi Arush explains the answer to the next automatic question people are asking: “What do we do now?”  


R’ Yisrael Salanter once broke a glass by accident. He right away he sat down and said, “Master of the World! What sin did I do that You caused a cup to break in my house?” 


His students asked, “It was a just a cup! Why are you so worried about it to do teshuva over it?” 


He answered, “Nothing happens if not for the decree of Hashem. If I don’t wake up to understand the hint now, then the next thing that happens already won’t be such a small hint…” 


On Thursday night, we didn’t get a hint. We didn’t even get a slap on the cheek. We got a punch in the face! A punch that really, really hurts. So if we got such a terrible punch, such a horrific disaster, and we don’t wake up now… what is coming next?! Oy va voy if we don’t wake up now! I am frankly scared for us if we don’t wake up now! 


So I prayed and asked Hashem to help me understand the message. And the message I understood was loud and clear: The Jewish people have been plagued by fighting, arguments and disagreements, on the private and also the communal level. Never before have there been such levels of sinat chinam, hatred among Jews, of lashon hara – evil speech and slander within the Jewish people. And that is what caused this terrible tragedy. 


And the solution is simple: We must love our fellow Jews, with mesirut nefesh  with self-sacrifice. This must be our new slogan! 


Surely this means going above and beyond to help, to have mercy, to do whatever we can for someone else, including making peace with one another. But it also means to make the time, whatever it takes, to pray for the Jewish people! 


If you love someone, you pray for them! So if we love each other, we have to pray for each other! And even though it’s so hard to find the time – we all work so hard, we’re so busy. It’s difficult just to carve out the hour of personal prayer, which we must find time for, and we cannot stop for anything. But I am asking you to find a way to add another 30 minutes of prayer every single day for the Jewish people! I know it will be difficult and that’s why I am telling you that it will take real self-sacrifice! 


I want you to pray that everyone in the Jewish people will have peace with one another and love one another. And that – is dependent on emuna! So I want you to pray that every single Jew, and everyone in the world, should come to one of my books or CDs and start learning emuna. That every Jew should do teshuva and return to Hashem and His Torah, without suffering. That Hashem should redeem us with mercy, without wars, without bombs, without suffering, without plagues, without disasters or earthquakes. That everyone should start learning the real truth, and living according to it.  


Don’t worry about repeating the words over and over again. I myself have done that for the past two days! Just make sure you fill an entire half an hour. 


For simple bullet points on exactly what to pray for, read: Love Comes First. 


And for those of you already doing one hour of daily personal prayer – you cannot make this 30 minutes the second half of your personal prayer. This if for two reasons: 


#1 – It isn’t such self-sacrifice to switch topics and not add time. And we need self-sacrifice, specifically! 


#2 – As I mentioned above, there is never any ability to not do your work on yourself. Hashem can forgive anything – except you throwing in the towel and not working on yourself to improve, however slowly and however difficult that might be, and on whatever spiritual level you might currently find yourself on. You must do your work on yourself! On that, there are no compromises, ever! So that one hour is hallowed time, and these additional prayers must be exactly that – in addition. 


That being said, something is always better than nothing. If you absolutely cannot manage 30 minutes a day, then add in the max of what you can do, plus a little extra – real self-sacrifice. 


Ultimately, this is the only comfort we can give to the families of those who lost loved ones in the disaster. 


As I said on Sunday to one family that is currently mourning two sons who died together that I went to visit and comfort them – this is the true solace.  


That because of their deaths, we woke up to come closer to Hashem. That their deaths should be the impetus for real change. 



In The Only Solution, Rabbi Arush expands on what our response must be to these tragedies: Ahavat Yisrael b’mesirut nefesh - loving each other with self-sacrificeListen to Rabbi Arush speak about loving each other and praying for each other in this Question and Answer session: 



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