Since Passover, we traditionally do not listen to music, diminishing our joy to remember the tragedy in the second century when 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva died. The plague lifted on Lag B’Omer, the 33rd day of the counting between Passover and Shavuot, the yartzeit of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who brought the light of the Zohar, Jewish mysticism, into the world.
Music brings joy, and just when it was time to bring it back into my life, I heard the news of the tragedy in Israel. At Mt. Meron in the north, where Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai is buried, tens of thousands gathered to celebrate, and in an accidental tragedy, 44 people were crushed to death, hundreds injured.
I am still in shock, seeing the pictures and postings of terrified people looking for loved ones…parents trying to get in touch with their children, their hearts consumed with fear.
As the word spread, what was the reaction of Jewish communities throughout the world? Their own local Lag B’Omer celebrations were immediately canceled, and instead, people gathered online and in-person to say Tehillim for the injured.
We are a family– we are hurting. There is no music now, only pain and prayer.
May God comfort those who are grieving and heal those who are injured and fighting for their lives.