95 Desecrating the Dead of Meron
Chananya Weissman
May 6, 2021

There are many videos and eyewitness testimonies which strongly suggest that what happened in Meron on Lag B'Omer was a premeditated, state-sponsored terrorist attack. The official narrative that this was a tragic accident, with perhaps some unintentional mistakes by police, is as believable as the official claim that there wasn't a single case of flu this year.

The people in power, and the media that regurgitates their missives, are not to be trusted. They are spin doctors and professional liars. Their mission is to draw conclusions for you, push an agenda, and silence those who get in the way. People listen to them only because they have a large platform, not because they ever earned our trust. Integrity and straight shooting are not requirements to get a job in the media; they are fireable offenses.

Knowing this, we should be outraged by what happened in Meron. We should not contentedly wait for the right hand of the government to investigate the left hand, present a predictable conclusion that will absolve those who matter of any criminal wrongdoing, and accept this as true because the media presents it as fact. Heads need to roll. Lots of them.

Religious leaders (I use the term loosely) have reacted to the murder of 45 holy people, and the maiming of countless others, in a predictable way. It was a Heavenly decree, they proclaim. These holy people were killed because we don't have enough respect for davening, or there isn't enough tznius, or we aren't supporting Torah enough, or they made too much of a holy gravesite, or because religious Jews like to push. In other words, it's their fault they were killed, and our fault too.

It's funny, though, that the same people who are coopting this tragedy to blame their spiritual pet peeve of choice believe it is off limits to do the same with the Holocaust. We can't possibly fathom why European Jewry would be destroyed, they admonish us. Many righteous people died in the Holocaust. Who are we to try to fathom God's ways? Who are we to assign blame for such an enormous tragedy? We must pretend that there were no spiritual issues worthy of severe punishment, or that we cannot possibly draw any useful conclusions from the Holocaust, and just grieve for the dead. Pointing out the sins of the generation would be an insult worthy of the strongest condemnation.

So why is Meron different? Because it was “only” 45 Jews who were killed? If so, at what point does it become socially unacceptable to blame a tragedy on the sins of people, and why specifically at that point? Why is it socially unacceptable to blame the death of a single person on a spiritual pet peeve, and unacceptable to blame the death of millions on the sins of people, but it's suddenly appropriate to wax mussar in the aftermath of Meron?

I'll tell you why. If it is really true that the victims at Meron were murdered, then religious Jews – and anyone with a heart – would have to be outraged. They would have to seek justice from all those who collaborated in the planning and implementation of this mass murder. That's a lot of people, from the grunts following orders all the way up to the very top. It would require a very thorough independent investigation, it would uncover some very ugly things, and it would encounter severe resistance from those who will do anything to keep those ugly things covered.

It would require that we drastically rethink what's really going on around us, who we trust, and how we react.

Who wants to deal with all that? It's much more convenient to bury the dead, grieve, blame some amorphous sin that won't jeopardize the support of any donors or followers, make a ceremony, and move on. The rabbis can fulfill their rabbinic expectations, the people can pretend to learn a lesson, and no one needs to do anything too uncomfortable.

Mind you, everything that happens is, irrespective of free choice, by divine decree. The Torah expects us to respond to tragedies with soul-searching to try to determine the spiritual cause and rectify it. Even when people are murdered in Europe or Meron, there is an underlying spiritual cause that empowered the perpetrators to carry out their evil desires. Nevertheless, those who carried out the decree by their own free will must be held accountable.

Urging people to focus only on the spiritual causes is a sinister ploy to absolve them from caring too much about what actually happened on the ground and who bears responsibility. They sanitize the event as a tragedy, an accident, a decree. Let's not concern ourselves with whether it was an intentional act of evil. Let's not point fingers at the people most directly responsible. What difference does it make? It was a Heavenly decree, so it would have happened anyway. We should bow our heads and look only inward.

Jews love to bow their heads in the face of evil. Religious Jews are very brave when it comes to fighting one another, but when it comes to confronting evil they are the greatest cowards on earth.

God forbid we should be outraged when Jewish blood is spilled with contempt, especially if those who caused it to happen were considerate enough to create plausible deniability. We can klop al chet, feel like we sanctified the dead, and get on with our lives. No need for anything that challenges our core beliefs or takes us out of our comfort zone.

We're great at memorializing the dead. Confronting the living, not so much.

Those who lost their lives in Meron deserve more than grieving and calls for introspection.

They deserve justice.