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If the Israeli State Cared More About the ultra-Orthodox, Fewer Disasters Would Happ If the Israeli State Cared More About the ultra-Orthodox, Fewer Disasters Would Happen

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On Monday, the household of the 93-year-old Chaim Kanievsky, the senior rabbi of the “Lithuanian” ultra-Orthodox stream, published words he is purported to have said after 45 people were trampled to death early Friday near the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai on Mount Meron.

“It is a ruling from heaven, and we cannot know God’s accounts,” the rabbi said. When asked what atonement can be done after the heavenly ruling, he listed a number of useful ideas: “strengthening the study of Torah … women should strengthen their modesty … [more observance] of the commandments of washing the hands before eating, and concentrating on the meaning of the blessings, so to feel the closeness of God.”

Naturally, the headlines in the secular media were that Rabbi Kanievsky blamed women and their lack of modesty for the deaths at Mount Meron. While that’s a fair way of characterizing his remarks, it would be also fair to say that Kanievsky’s list was a pretty generic and typical set of recommendations for an old ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, rabbi to make, at any opportunity.

Only there is a certain irony, not only in the fact that women and their clothing (or lack thereof) should have to atone for an event where it was only men and boys who were killed and injured. As Haaretz's Chaim Levinson reported Thursday, the narrow deadly passageway where the victims fell and were crushed was actually built 20 years ago (without any planning permission) by the Toldot Aharon Hasidic sect, specifically to keep the thousands of men attending their Lag Ba’omer bonfire lighting completely separated and out of sight of any women in the Rabbi Shimon compound.

The layers of responsibility for the disaster on........

© Haaretz

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