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August 29, 2014 / 3 Elul, 5774
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The Storm that United a Divided Nation

As the storm approached I wondered what it all meant. I am a religious man and believe all to be providence. There are no coincidences. A freak storm, hitting New Jersey of all places, in late October, is so rare as to seriously raise eyebrows.
Hurricane

Photo Credit: YY

I’m sitting here with my kids on Monday night and, aside from the glow of the laptop, the Sabbath has come early this week. Outside Hurricane Sandy is pounding our New Jersey town of Englewood. Earlier in the day we saw trees bend like twigs and wind gusts tearing pieces of our roof clear off. This evening we said Psalms for all the people of the Northeastern United States to be safe and studied the Biblical portion of the day, appropriately, Abraham arguing with G-d to protect the inhabitants of his area condemned to destruction through the elements.

Just yesterday I was fully engaged in my campaign for the United States Congress. Winning, elections, and victory were on my mind. Boy, what a difference a day can make. Today, I just want my family and the 50 million people in the storm’s path to be safe. We just read of a man of 30 who lost his life when a tree fell on his house in Queens, NY. We read of two boys in New York State who lost their lives in similar circumstances. We’ve seen photos of people’s homes blown away. In Manhattan, a giant crane dangles and there is no telling whom it might hurt.

Does winning matter now?

As the storm approached I wondered what it all meant. I am a religious man and believe all to be providence. There are no coincidences. A freak storm, hitting New Jersey of all places, in late October, is so rare as to seriously raise eyebrows. And just a week before such momentous elections that will determine the future of our nation and who will be our President?

I cannot divine the mind of God and we would obviously all have been much better off without this storm. And while, by far, the most important thing is for everyone to be safe, and for the families of those who lost loved ones to be comforted, the storm’s arrival does suddenly put everything in perspective.

For the past few months America has been bitterly consumed by an election that has torn the country asunder. To an extent it’s understandable. While the tone has been at times quite negative, the stakes in this election are very high and the consequences for whichever visions wins very great. It’s understandable that passions are so intense.

Yet, along comes Frankenstorm, just days before the election, and knocks everything about the election clear off TV, newspapers, and the internet. Just try to find a candidate anywhere campaigning. President Obama and Governor Romney have both suspended their campaigns. Our own efforts here in New Jersey are focused on how we can help those who have most suffered in the storm. The only thing that matters now is people’s safety and wellbeing. Suddenly there is no talk of Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, tax cuts and entitlements. There are no attack ads and there are no advocacy ads. All the talk is about protecting life, keeping people safe, and being there for each other.

In my book that’s coming out next month, The Fed-Up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering, I reject any belief that suffering is redemptive. I will not dignify human agony with according it some higher purpose. All suffering is awful and any good that comes by its means could be achieved far more effectively through something positive. Better there be no storms, better there be no danger. But to the extent this awful thing is here, perhaps God, in His providence, is telling us that unity is what life is all about and we’re just too darn divided.

Yes, I would prefer that we come together in the wake of something positive than negative. We don’t need hurricanes, we don’t need 9/11’s, we don’t need the murder of American Ambassadors in Benghazi to remind us that we’re one nation, one people, with one heart. Much better to unite around a man walking on the moon, a space shuttle lifting off, and Americans winning gold medals at the Olympics. Better to unite around inspirational stories of diseases being cured, people in danger being rescued, children who are hungry being fed. But to the extent that our country is way too divided, let’s internalize the message, just before one of the most partisan elections of all time, that there is nothing in life as special as unity, nothing more beloved by God than oneness among His children, nothing more inspirational that differences being put aside as humanity unites to protect life.

About the Author: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the international best-selling author of 29 books, including The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.


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12 Responses to “The Storm that United a Divided Nation”

  1. Anonymous says:

    You wrote: "President Obama and Governor Romney have both suspended their campaigns." I disagree.

    Obama is continuing to campaign, in the guise of supporting those impacted by the storm. Did you not hear him say, "We leave no one behind"? This was outrageous. It was a mockery of the Benghazi massacre, a flippant and arrogant remark, flaunting the fact that he did indeed leave Americans behind in Benghazi – and he got away with it!

    Obama has used the tragedy of the storm to distract people from his impeachable, treasonous betrayal of our ambassador and our military. Obama abandoned Americans in Benghazi to please Islamist terrorists, his true constituency. And, in support of Obama, MSNBC even attacked Romney for raising charitable donations for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC actually misquoted the Red Cross as saying that it didn't want any charitable contributions from Romney!

    So, your naivete is not appreciated! Obama and his media goons are still dividing this country, despicably using the storm for political gain.

  2. Tzvi Fishman says:

    Oh, Shmuley, you have me crying, boo hoo, boo hoo. When are you going to stop leading the Jewish people in America astray? Why are you campaigning for the United States Congress, when you could be campaigning for the Knesset of the State of Israel? You wonder "what wil be with the future of our nation?" Our nation is Israel, not America. Our Capital is Jerusalem, not Washington. When are you going to stop leading Jewish people astray? The title of your new book is perfect. Yes, you are "The Fed-Up Man of Faith." Who are you to challenge God? Who are you to deny that suffering is redemptive, atoning, purifying, when the Torah, the Prophets, and all the Sages of Israel tell us that suffering indeed comes to purge us of our sins? When are you going to stop leading Jewish people astray? When did you realize that you know more than God? When you were crawling after a child molester to get headlines for yourself? God has decided there should be a storm and Shmuley Boteach says no? Gevalt! Gevalt! Gevalt! When are you going to stop leading Jews astray with kosher jesuses and perverted child molesters? Instead of trying to save Sodom and Gommorah, and get elected to its Congress, why not heed the main lesson of Avraham: Lech Lecha – Get thee forth to the Land of Israel, where God wants His children to be? Why not teach people that lesson? Teach the young Jews of America that Israel is their Nation, and that Eretz Yisrael is their Land, before they all marry gentiles. May God bless the Land of Israel, which He watches over from the beginning of the year till its end. With one huff and puff, He could blow all of your dear America away into a big pile of rubble. That's the lesson He wants you to learn. Oh, Shmuley, stop leading the Jewish people astray!

  3. The very mention of his name boils my blood! He is a sycophant, and some of the most vile people call him their spiritual leader!

    May he find repentance!

  4. Liad Bar-el says:

    Shmuley, “…Abraham arguing with G-d to protect the inhabitants of his area condemned to destruction through the elements” the inhabitants of his area…not dollar idol worshiping America…whom Abraham was trying with all of his energy to bring closer to HaShem by purifying the Holy Land that HaShem told him and ALL of his generations of children to live in.

    “Winning, elections, and victory were on my mind.” Many German Jews thought and worked for the same. What a shame that you haven’t learned that lesson yet and what a greater shame that you are leading others to do the same.

    “I cannot divine the mind of God and we would obviously all have been much better off without this storm.” You’re trying to tell HaShem that what He did was wrong? As Jonah didn’t perform his G-d given instructions to properly educate the people, he ran away, was met by a strong sea storm which was calmed down only after he was thrown into the raging water. Shmuley, maybe this sea storm would have been calmed sooner if you had been thrown into it for you, like Jonah, are not educating the people to repent and follow Hashem’s command to live in Israel but rather live in a foreign country, support and follow after the idol worshiping goyim.

    “Barack Obama rose to national prominence when he gave a speech about there not being red states and blue states but United States.” Didn’t you get the picture of what he was saying? You should understand by now that Obama didn’t say USA, United States of America, for he is turning it into a United States of Arabs and you’re helping him do it.

    “The Fed-Up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering, I reject any belief that suffering is redemptive.” The premise of your book is totally wrong. Everything that HaShem has done is totally right and with our feeble minds, we all don’t really understand how He works; yet, you are saying that you know better. I’ve never seen ignorance and such arrogance in all my life.

  5. Anonymous says:

    While Nina is still on West , Israeli did not stopped their preparations to move her into Russian hands. By sticking to same Japanese script that brought annihilation to 4 000 000 of my people and openly standing against God they must count with serious consequences.

    They shall be aware that in response to this transfer, Lord is ready for first time in history to deliver his Final Act in exchange for release of his fiance, even if this will mean end of state of Israel.

    Read more of consequences of this modern Pilsudski/Petlura pact, including nuclear one. Please forward broadly to Israeli and all Jewish People.

    More: http://tautur.tumblr.com/post/34693727134

  6. Liad Bar-el says:

    I agree with you Tzvi 100%. I should have read your talkback first before posting for you hit the nail on the head. Right on brother!

  7. Anonymous says:

    I tried twice yesterday to comment on this article, and my comments were removed! I wanted only to say that I disagree with Rabbi Boteach that because of the storm, "President Obama and Governor Romney have both suspended their campaigns." Obama has does nothing but exploit the storm for political gain – and the most disgusting example is his comment that "I don't leave anyone behind". To many people, this was an arrogant reminder that he left behind our ambassador and military in Benghazi. And Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC actually lied to America on Obama's behalf, telling the public that the Red Cross had refused to accept charitable donations for storm victims from Mitt Romney.

  8. RabbiYosef Thompson says:

    Shalom Tzvi, well written! May he hesitate and engage his brain before he next speaks.

  9. Anonymous says:

    'Perhaps God, in His providence, is telling us that unity is what life is all about'.

    Perhaps you are the clueless and blind leading the blind?
    Rabbi, It's tragic when someone who is supposed to know God's word is ignorant about his many warnings of judgments on the wicked , who only offers us toxic volumes of sugar and not the strong medicine we need for this dark times we are living in.
    When was the last time you spoke of God judging Sodom and Gomorrah for their wickedness as a clear warning to us today?
    It's only going to get worse because those like you, the blind leaders of the blind ignore God's many warnings and feed us on their lopsided religious quackery.

    At night my soul longs for You, Indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently; For when the earth experiences Your judgments The inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.
    Isaiah 26:9

    The Lord is slow to anger and great in power and will by no means clear the guilty. The Lord has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet.
    Nahum 1:3

  10. Liad Bar-el says:

    Humble yourself Shmuley. According to the news report, next week end, you'll be getting another storm.

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