“Just incomprehensible,” said Reb Chaim to Hamodia on Friday morning, after witnessing from close the tragedy that occurred late Thursday night in Meron, after the hadlakah of the Toldos Aharon Rebbe, shlita. It still takes him time to get to himself and talk about the events that he witnessed.
“This is a tragedy beyond any stretch of the imagination. Simple as that,” he began his narrative.
“We live in a city up north, generally it would take us half an hour, to an hour, to get to Meron. On Lag BaOmer, with the traffic, it can take a little longer. So we were there last night, at the hadlakah of Toldos Aharon. I was standing on the bleachers on the other side, overlooking the hadlakah – not where the tragedy occurred. As the hadlakah finished, I saw the crowds disperse and it seemed that chaos was in the making. All of a sudden, I heard screaming and realized something was amiss. The music stopped suddenly and the announcements came out for all to please leave the scene as soon as possible. I still can’t go back to those tragic minutes, about 1 a.m. The sounds, the scenes. These are things I can’t forget.
“After we finally made it out and down to the buses, I found a bus and asked the driver to take us back to our city. The driver – an Arab – wasn’t willing to take the drive, but we begged him to help us leave the place. All this time, I had no reception on my cellphone, and many family members, from Israel and from abroad, were calling to look for me.
“We got back home just before 6 a.m. and I finally got in touch with my family members who were nervous and stressing all night.
“What do we need to take from this? Rabi Shimon bar Yochai said that he could absolve the world … If he didn’t manage to cancel this decree on the very day of Lag BaOmer, then we need to do real soul-searching and teshuvah.”