MERON TRAGEDY: Dramatic Testimony Of Toldos Aharon Representative |צבי הלר מחסידות תולדות אהרון

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   שום סרט לא עובד? נסה לגלוש במצב 2
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Rav Aharon Tzvi Heller, a representative of Toldos Aharon known as Hersh Michel, who is responsible for all the Lag B’Omer logistics for the chassidus,....

Rav Aharon Tzvi Heller, a representative of Toldos Aharon known as Hersh Michel, who is responsible for all the Lag B’Omer logistics for the chassidus, testified to the state commission of inquiry into the Meron disaster on Tuesday.

“Whatever you decide is kodesh, that’s what will be,” Heller told the members of the commission, to the surprise of many. “You can rest assured that we’ll obey every word.”

“We don’t do anything without the police,” Heller said. “If the police would have said before the hadlaka that there won’t be a hadlaka, there’s too many people – then there wouldn’t have been a hadlaka. I promise you that we wouldn’t have carried out the hadlaka.”

In order to illustrate that he was speaking the truth, Heller said that in 2020, when Meron was closed due to COVID, the chassidus could have obtained a permit for the Toldos Aharon Rebbe. But the Rebbe decided to refrain from traveling to Meron and instructed his chassidim to remain in Yerushalayim. Instead, he conducted a hadlaka on the roof of the shul, without the chassidim. “No one from our kehilla was at Meron in 2020. Our public is very disciplined.”

“I get calls almost every day from other chassidiyos who ask what our plans are. I tell them that whatever was won’t be in the future, it’s history. Whatever the commission decides b’ezras Hashem, we’ll do. There’s no ‘chachmos’ here, we’ve paid a very painful price.”

“I told a member of a large chassidus today: ‘It’s not pleasant for me to testify but I’m loudly proclaiming: ‘We must obey the instructions of the police and security forces, whether there is or isn’t a hadlaka, the amount of people, etc. We must obey what they say and not make light of even the smallest instruction.'”

“We’ve experienced great pain and tzaar since the disaster. The Rebbe is not the same Rebbe, he’s broken and shattered. The Chagim weren’t Chagim. There are nine yesomim [the children of the Toldos Aharon chassid who was killed at Meron] surrounding the Rebbe every day.”

Retired Supreme Court Justice Miriam Naor, the head of the commission, asked Heller about their contacts with the police. Heller responded that four years ago they received instructions from the police to raise the stage where the Rebbe sat and to remove the children. “We removed them in accordance with their instructions and we also moved the women to the top level. Everything was done in accordance with police instructions.”

Heller said that he entered his position as the liaison with the police for the Hamekomos Hakedoshim 15 years ago. “The police issues instructions, we need to fulfill them, and only then do we proceed,” he said. “This year we had six meetings with them. They issue instructions and we carry them out. They tell us what we need to do, how many levels for the bleachers, how many barriers, what to fix – and we proceed only in accordance with their instructions.”

Naor then asked about the number of people allowed to enter the Toldos Aharon area for the hadlka. “The engineer testified and told us how many are allowed to enter. Did you know anything about that?

“I didn’t know about it until after the disaster,” Heller responded. “There weren’t any signs in the area saying how many could enter. We never ever heard that there’s a limit on the size of the crowd or the area. Anyway, who are we that we can tell people who can enter or who cannot? Does it belong to us? We’re not the police. Are we even permitted to put up barriers? There were areas we wanted to block off, by the steps of Rebbe Elazar where all the women are. We wanted to separate between the men and women but the police didn’t let us. They told us that we can’t because it’s an escape route. We accepted this despite the fact that in accordance with our way of life there should have been a mechitza there.”

“We didn’t put in a single nail without the police and the engineers. There’s no one who will say that Toldos Aharon did even little things without a permit. Two hours before Lag B’Omer I received an entire booklet. The engineer came, threw me a booklet, and said: ‘Here’s your signed permit.'”

“What was I supposed to know? What do I understand? I’m an engineer? An architect?”

When Naor mentioned the size of the crowd, Heller responded that he didn’t notice that the crowding was more intense than in previous years. “They should have told us – stop the hadlaka,” he said. “Why didn’t anyone do that? We simply obey what the police tell us. If the police would have said before the hadlaka that there won’t be a hadlaka, there’s too many people – then there wouldn’t have been a hadlaka. I promise you that we wouldn’t have carried out the hadlaka. If they would have told me – stop the event, they wouldn’t have had to repeat it twice – it would have happened immediately. The police were the ones who managed the event.”

Heller wore a “ring” from a Sukkos lulav on his finger while testifying, apparently a segulah for success.


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