So let us focus on more recent events.
During the summer of 2002 a terrible tragedy occurred in a bungalow colony in the Catskills. A mother had just bathed her infant baby and put her in her carriage for a nap. Suddenly out of nowhere a wild bear appeared, snatched the baby and made off with her. The baby was never seen again.
This shocking story was covered in newspapers and on radio and TV, but, strangely, I met relatively few people who were aware of it. Nor did I encounter many who were aware of the Talmudic teaching that the generation that witnesses a wild beast snatching a baby from its cradle should sound the shofar to awaken the nation. Needless to say, the shofar was not sounded and we were not awakened. And in the years since, our slumber has become ever deeper.
The number of catastrophes around the world has multiplied to such an extent that we have all but become desensitized to them. Tsunamis, hurricanes, volcanoes, earthquakes, nuclear spills, uncontrollable fires, previously unknown diseases, savage acts of terror – all have become common. Could these constitute a long, ongoing wakeup call? Somehow it never even occurs to us to ask that question.
And then Sandy arrived in all her fury, mocking us – mocking our technology, our arrogance, our presumption of invincibility. We are silenced. We stand humbly. We tremble and cry.
How could this be? Things like this occur only in primitive places far from civilization. But it happened and we cannot escape it, and this time we cannot find an explanation because this time it was our house. This time it was our community.
This time was different. But will we be different? Or will we stubbornly pursue our old ways and remain deaf, dumb and blind? Will we continue with our sick obsessions, worshiping the god of Money and succumbing to the enticements of our degenerate society?
It’s all in our hands. Hashem is calling.
Do you remember the story of Elijah the prophet and Jezebel, the evil queen who seduced our people into worshiping pagan gods? Elijah rose like a lion and went to battle to save our people and bring them back to Hashem, Who responded and sent a great miracle for all to see and hear.
The people actually witnessed the Hand of the Almighty and proclaimed in unison “G-d, He is G-d!” Elijah rejoiced. But Jezebel merely said, “Wait until tomorrow.” Tragically, she was correct. Tomorrow came and all was forgotten.
The question we must now ask ourselves is this: Will we forget and go back to business as usual or will we remember Psalm 69? Have the waters risen onto our souls and will our prayers pour forth from those souls to reach to the Heavenly Court? Let us say, with King David, “But as for me, my prayer is to You, Hashem.”