The Tragic Death of a Minyan

When the High Priest Aharon, brother of Moses, was informed that two of his sons had been killed by fire, he remained silent. Stunned, pained, shocked, the father could not cry or mourn. He only remained silent.

A few days ago, the Dead Sea was not the only dead. A tragic minyan of ten beautiful young students of the Bnei Tzion pre-military academy in Tel-Aviv were suddenly swept to their deaths while hiking in the Tzafit riverbed south of the Dead Sea.  Cause of their deaths was drowning in the raging waters of a sudden flash flood.

Ten families are now bereft of ten sons and daughters whose bright lives were snuffed out without warning.  Our army is now bereft of ten promising young soldiers. Our country is bereft of ten beautiful young eighteen-year olds, pride and joy to our nation.  And who is to blame?   God?

It was God who caused the rains and hail to fall and the soaked earth trails to collapse. But the attention is now on both the Education and Defense Ministries for permitting the hike while they were aware of the severe storm warnings.

The hearts of millions of us grieve as we join with the over-whelmed mourning parents who now sit shiva for beautiful sons and daughters.

Aich l’nachem?  How can we comfort them? Truly all of us are mourners for we have lost ten bright and adventurous youths, pride of their school and fellow classmates.  All of us are in need of comforting.

Looking at the photos of the ten dead, their smiling faces beaming with happiness, I have become like the High Priest Aharon.  I too am stunned into silence. Tears of sadness have replaced my voice that wants to cry out to heaven but cannot. My heart is breaking but my voice is silent.

If I could speak I would cry out to God “aich Yacholta laasot davar ka zeh”… how could You have done a thing like this?  But my voice remains still, not drowned in the rapid falling waters which took the lives of our minyan of ten,  but drowned instead by the tears falling from my eyes.

If the school authorities were fully aware of the weather reports and did nothing to cancel the hike, they must be blamed for the totally tragic and unnecessary deaths of ten young souls.

If the Education Ministry was informed of the hike, planned by nineteen year old students, and had knowledge of impending severe weather and did nothing to cancel the hike, they must bear the blame.

Parents had to bury their young children.  Why?  It is unnatural for children to die before their parents die.  The dreams parents had for the future of their children have also cuelly died.

All that we can say to the bereaved families is the traditional prayer recited to mourners:

“Ha Makom yenachem etchem b’toch sh’ar avalei Tziyon v’Yerushalayim”… May God comfort you among the mourners out of the gates of Zion and Jerusalem”.

And while we grieve with them, and like Aharon, restrain our voices with silence,  let all the nation lift up its eyes toward heaven and speak only the one word..  Amen.

We have lost forever a minyan of the pure and the beautiful.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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