For the week ending 17 September 2005 / 13 Elul 5765

The Stormy Wind Which Does His Bidding

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Wake up you slumberers from your deep sleep, examine your behavior, repent your sins and remember your Creator.

This is the message of the shofar sound, writes Rambam (Laws of Repentance 3:4), to those who forget the truth as a result of being preoccupied with transient, meaningless matters.

This message of the shofar was written by Rambam about the shofar sounds we make on Rosh Hashanah. The widespread custom, however, is to sound the shofar after the morning service for an entire month before Rosh Hashanah in order to wake us up to the need to properly prepare for the Awesome Days of Judgment which are approaching.

This year there was a mighty shofar blast which preceded the ones we make. It was the shofar of G-d Who sent a mighty hurricane - the stormy wind which does His bidding (Tehilim 148:8) to wake up an entire world.

The worldwide response of empathy for the victims of this disaster and the outpouring of assistance, including volunteers and supplies from Israel and from Jewish communities in the U.S., are certainly worthy of praise. But this is not enough!

Hurricanes may be popularly labeled natural disasters, but anyone who is willing to take a deeper look can see the Divine energy in the eye of the storm. The message is clear for all of mankind and especially for the Jewish People who have been granted the privilege of return to G-d during the special Days of Atonement and this month of Elul preceding them.

We join the world in prayer for those who can yet be saved and whose lives and homes can be rebuilt. We wish the U.S. president and his administration the greatest success in recovering from this tragedy. But most of all we look forward to the entire world waking up in time to avert another disaster.

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