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Israeli officials had a plan to prevent the tragedy at Mt.  Meron.  It was ignored.

“None of this worries me at all,” said Yehuda Leib Schreiber, 33, a full-time Torah scholar and father of seven. “Everything is dictated from above.”

The only appropriate response, he said, was “to repent.”

The victims of Beitar Illit included a father of 11, Rabbi Shimon Matlon, Elazar Goldberg, 37, Shmuel Zvi Klagsbald, 43, and a teenager, Shmuel Eliahu Cohen, 16. regulation.

Inside, the prevailing atmosphere was one of collective mourning and silent introspection. Residents said the tragedy was a divine message that called for introspection and self-improvement. Even when such messages were difficult for mortals to understand, they said, who were they to ask questions?

“We believe that the 45 were chosen by God to atone for the sins of this entire generation,” said Chavi Zaltsman, 25, a mother of two from the Karlin Hasidic sect. Sins could include unnecessary gossip, arguments or hatred, she said, adding, “We have to love each other more, even if people are different.

Some took comfort in the national day of mourning that the government called on Sunday, although the most extreme ultra-Orthodox groups that do not recognize the state were not interested in state decrees.

“God came and took this boy and this man,” said Asher Suissa, 44, a caterer and friend of Rabbi Matlon. But he added that people were also involved, without attributing blame.

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