Rattled in L.A. wrote:
We went to our Synagogue on Friday night, to give thanks following the recent California earthquake. The Rabbi spoke about how it is difficult to believe that a decent, good, all-caring, and all-powerful G-d would cause an earthquake.
Is this true? Doesn't
G-dcontrol natural phenomena such as earthquakes?
First, I would like you to know that we here in Israel were also shocked and stunned by the earthquake and the great hardships that have unfolded because of it. By no means do we intend to preach to you from this column, but as Jews we look for meaning in everything that happens in our lives, and it is in that light that I would like to suggest the following:
The Mishna in Tractate Brachot says that when one sees an earthquake one should make the blessing, "Blessed be He whose strength and power fill the world." This clearly expresses the belief that
The Talmud in the beginning of Tractate Brachot says that if someone is suffering they should review their actions. There must be some way that this suffering can give meaning to a piece of my being that needed to be nurtured. The Mishna in Brachot also mentions that if someone suffers a personal loss they should say: "Blessed be He, the true Judge."
There is a wonderful Chassidic story about Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchov. He once had it announced that after the Mincha service on Shabbat he would be lecturing on the subject of "What I, Levi Yitzchak, would do if I were
There was much excitement about the topic, and the synagogue was filled to overflowing when the time for the discourse arrived. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak dramatically made his way to the lectern, and in an emotional voice said: "If I, Levi Yitzchak were
As Jews we are ever hopeful that every dramatic event will bring us closer to a time when
The following is not an argument for why the earthquake happened; it is intended as a ray of hope on a dark and tragic landscape. The Israeli city of Tzfat has suffered several devastating earthquakes. After one of them in the year 1839, the Chassidic Rabbi, Rebbe Avraham Dov of Avritch, said the following: "This catastrophe is a sign of the redemption. The Talmud in Sanhedrin alludes to the time when the Mashiach will redeem us. He will come when 'This gate shall collapse, be rebuilt, collapse, be rebuilt again and again, until there will not be enough time to rebuild it before the Mashiach comes.' The word gate in Hebrew is sha'ar. These same three (Hebrew) letters when reshuffled spell the word ra'ash (meaning earthquake)...May this be the last 'collapsing of the gate' mentioned in the Talmud, and may we soon see the final redemption in our time — Amen."
- Sources: Mishna, Tractate Brachot, page 54a; Talmud, Tractate Brachot, page 5b; Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin, page 98a; Safed the Mystical City, by Dovid Rossoff, pp. 163-164