Among the 45 boys and men who lost their lives in the Meron disaster on Lag BaOmer was Ariel Achdut, from the Ramot neighborhood of Jerusalem, who was among a group of select young Torah scholars at Yesodot HaTorah in Tel Aviv, one of the most respected yeshivahs in the Sephardic Jewish world.

According to Behadrei Haredim web site, almost a week after the tragedy, his friends still find it difficult to digest the news and speak of him in the past tense while they tell of events from the last few weeks of his life that are difficult to comprehend.

In order to encourage his fellow students, Ariel would write a phrase every day on a white board that he hung in the middle of their study hall. The last sentence he wrote on it was: “Do not go to a place where everyone is jammed together.”

A week before his death, one of the young men in the yeshivah saw someone studying in the beit midrash (study hall) at 2:30 a.m., and when he approached, he saw that it was Ariel. When he asked Ariel why he was there, he replied: “I could not fall asleep, so I went up to study.”

On Wednesday, April 29, the day before his passing, his mother, Tehi, came to visit him at the yeshivah. She took several buses to meet her son, and it was the first time she had made the trip in the three-and-a-half years that he was studying there, she said at the shiva.

The mother and son went shopping for clothes, and ate together and talked for six hours about his progress in his studies and the goals he set for himself for the coming summer months. It was their last conversation. When asked why she came, she told his rosh yeshivah that she simply felt a need to meet with her son.

The last sentence Ariel wrote on a white board of inspiratioal Torah messages was: “"Do not follow the herd. It's crowded there.”
The last sentence Ariel wrote on a white board of inspiratioal Torah messages was: “"Do not follow the herd. It's crowded there.”

On the train on the way to Meron, he told his friends, “I urgently need a Gemara, try to get one for me,” and indeed, someone brought him a Tractate Kiddushin and he studied it while traveling. He told his friends that he had a great desire to learn from the Gemara itself and “to see the sacred letters with my own eyes.”

He finished the entire book of Psalms in Meron on the night of the disaster and called to inform his parents about it shortly before his passing.

Ariel’s friends remember him as a young man of extraordinary depth and inwardness, who loved his yeshivah, his friends and his family, and was kind and gracious. According to Behadrei Haredim, “His wisdom enlightened his face, and his rejoicing radiated comfort, encouragement and love to all.”