Food for Thought | Meir Bergman

We are all still reeling from the recent tragedies that hit klal yisroel particularly hard over the past year. First we had covid which took so many precious neshamos away from us, including numerous gedolei yisroelaskanim, and ehrliche yidden who sadly succumbed to the awful virus. And just recently we had the Meron disaster – 45 beautiful men and children torn away from us at the kever of Rabi Shimon bar Yochai.

I can’t say why these tragedies occurred, but I had an interesting thought that perhaps could shed some light on perhaps what Hashem is telling us.

The gemara says that the 24,000 talmidim of Rabi Akiva were niftar from an illness called askara. It isn’t clear exactly what illness this translates to in modern terminology, but we know that it was something to do with their breathing. They died from asphyxiation. Similarly, COVID-19 and the tragedy at Meron both resulted in people being killed because they weren’t able to get enough oxygen. So we have the talmidei Rabi Akiva, coronavirus, and the Meron tragedy, all of which had to do with people dying due to breathing difficulties.

Like I mentioned before, I can’t say why the covid pandemic or the Meron tragedy occurred. But we do know why the talmidei Rabi Akiva were niftar –shelo nahagu kavod zeh lazeh. They didn’t have the proper respect for one another, they didn’t treat each other right. And they were niftar from an illness that stopped their breathing. Is it possible there’s a connection between the deaths of Rabi Akiva’s talmidim and those that we saw over the course of the covid pandemic and the tragedy in Meron? All of the deaths were related to breathing.

Could it be the lesson we are supposed to learn from the talmidim of Rabi Akiva is the same lesson we must take from covid and the Meron tragedy? We know we don’t treat others right, we know we have a lot to do to achieve true achdus. Perhaps the lack of oxygen that talmidei rabi Akiva suffered from is the same suffered by the victims of covid and Meron.

To reiterate, I am not giving any sort of final analysis on either corona or the Meron tragedy. All I am saying is that there is a certain pattern here, one that I think is worth thinking about. It’s simply food for thought.

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  1. Yes, as Rabbi Wallerstein recently commented: “We need to start letting each other breathe! We need to stop stifling one another just because we may be different than them in some way!” We don’t all have to be the same, but we all MUST respect one another despite our differences. There are many ways to be Oved Hashem. “Your” way or “My” way is not the only way! LET’S LET ONE ANOTHER BREATHE!!!

    • Important to keep reviewing this message. Perhaps we are still not letting others breath since the first article was published

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