Fervor — Howard Richard Debs

Night and Light - Digital Work - Miroslava Panayotova
Night and Light – Digital Work – Miroslava Panayotova
How to make sense of it?
I will try. But this we know
at least 45 dead, children too  
all trampled, crushed
suffocated in a stampede
in a narrow corridor
on Mount Meron where
100,000 Haredi Jews,
those who tremble
at the word of God,
came to commemorate
at his supposed tomb
the assumed anniversary 
of the death of Rabbi 
Shimon bar Yochai
mystic of the 2nd century 
of whom it is told that
his criticism of Roman
rule marked him for 
execution, and forced
him to hide in a cavern
for thirteen years surviving
on only dates and carob fruit
and that finally one day
seeing a bird flying free
from a net set by a hunter
Shimon took the bird’s
escape as an omen that
God would not forsake him
and he too made his escape. 
The great sage died it is said
On the 33rd day of the counting
Of the Omer, that time between
The holiday of Passover and
The Feast of Weeks, a harvest
festival, when according to tradition
Moses brought down from Mount
Sinai the Word of God to
The Children of Israel, and
this 33rd day is called 
Lag B’Omer a day to rejoice,
as all petitions shall be answered
as it is believed on that very
day of his death bar Yochai
revealed the secrets of 
the mystical Kabbalah,
bringing light into the world
for which the fervent set
bonfires, dancing, singing
chanting ecstatically
through the night 
remembering the words
he uttered that anyone who 
sees Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai 
is certain that he will be 
in the World to Come.


It is difficult to understand another’s passion for their beliefs which leads them to do that which appears so foreign to so many. We need to focus on that which binds us as humans. We need to reconsider viewing others solely as to their difference. This poem attempts to view the matter with an appreciation for the depth of belief which leads to such a strong commitment to act in a certain way, even to the point of discounting potential untoward consequences.

News source.

©2021 Howard Richard Debs
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One thought on “Fervor — Howard Richard Debs

  1. While the story is tragic, I respect and admire that you tried to convey the passion with which this festival is celebrated and empathize with those involved. That is not an easy task, to be sure. Thank you for sharing this with us, and for the afterword, which helps clarify. Thanks for showing us that respect for and appreciation of our differences is vital to finding a common ground for us all.


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