Last week Israel experienced its worst peacetime tragedy. 45 people died and over 150 were wounded in a stampede at a Jewish religious music festival on Mount Meron. Perhaps the most heart-breaking aspect of this tragedy is that it was entirely preventable. Since 1991, I have attended this festival four times. While I loved the beauty of the music, I too felt the gathering bordered on the dangerous.
Sometimes people lose the balance between the rational and the emotional. That Meron gathering is famous for its ecstatic music that encourages an outpouring of emotions. The problem was no one was responsible for the physical safety of the attendees.
At our Temple we too are trying to balance the need for spiritual experiences like Shabbat with maintaining the safety and health of our congregation. The CDC and the State of New York are releasing new guidelines all the time. The Temple leadership has been working hard to balance our safety and spirituality.
Why is the Jewish Star the symbol of the Jewish people? One answer is that it is the symbol of balance. It is made of two perfect triangles of equal sides and equal angles. The prefect triangles are then placed in perfect balance. One triangle points up to the heavens representing our spiritual aspirations. The other triangle points down to the earth representing our physical limitations. Our prayer is that we can balance the physical and the spiritual. They are not competing but complementary. The Jewish Star can remind us that we need to find balance between the physical and spiritual to be truly healthy.
The Meron tragedy sadly reminds us of this lesson and reminds us of the need for balance.
May the Jewish Star be an inspiration for balance in our lives.
Rabbi David Wilfond