web analytics
November 26, 2014 / 4 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Home » Judaism » Torah »

Thoughts On Hurricane Sandy


YU-112312-Trees

Right now, we are in an extraordinarily dark time for our community, and we have no idea how the narrative will end. There is little we can search for that will reassure us that things will somehow be okay. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned here. In the aftermath of the Hurricane, our community institutions – shuls and yeshivos alike – have become hubs of tefillah and chesed. Though it is difficult to daven at a time like this, when confronting a wrathful God, there is no doubt that even if a House of God can’t provide answers, it can provide comfort, and that’s why people come. Perhaps this is why the Shunamite woman reached out to Elisha – as a man of God, his presence could be a comfort even if he could do nothing about her situation. Our challenge is to continue seeking, and continue to be a place where people who are seeking an encounter with the Divine – whether because they are angry at Him, want to thank Him, don’t understand Him or are seeking closeness – will be able to feel spiritually fulfilled.

Another lesson we can learn from the Shunamite woman is that of perspective. When Elisha asks what he could do for her, the Shunamite woman refused to focus on what was glaringly missing from her life. She instead was thankful for the simple life she led and the gift of community and support she received. Throughout the past weeks, many people expressed similar sentiments. In the midst of depressing and crippling power outages, many wrote or told me that they were enjoying the family togetherness this experience afforded. One person even focused on the character building aspect of the whole experience, writing how interesting it was to see his children redefine the “necessities” of life.

Of course, it is not our place to pass judgments for and on others and tell them that their suffering is noble and builds character. Chazal tell us that Iyov’s friends were especially faulted for making these kinds of calculations on behalf of their friend who was suffering epic tragedies. We can’t tell other people that “it’s just stuff,” because it’s not just stuff; it’s a lifetime of memories. Chazal also tell us that we are not supposed to offer words of comfort at the time that mes motel l’fanav, when a person is not yet buried and the loss of a loved one is still fresh. Baruch Hashem, we have not suffered that kind of loss, but the loss of a home, or even significant damage to one, no doubt engenders feelings of grief and heartache. But it is humbling and heartening to see others who have suffered loss, or even great inconvenience, say the same thing.

Perhaps there is another lesson, though, one that may, indeed, provide some comfort. When we leave a narrative incomplete, we realize that we still have a hand in writing the conclusion. Because as much as our community has suffered, we have also shown – and been shown – unprecedented levels of chessed, in the spirit of Avraham Avinu, whose hospitality and kindness were a by word and, for him, even superseded the value of a conversation with God. Our community has been inundated with e-mails from people who are blessed to have power, heat, electricity and internet service, offering the use of their homes to anyone who wants, and people with fridge and freezer space and a dry home offering that, as well as Shabbos hospitality for sleeping and meals. People from across the tri-state area have been coming to volunteer on the Lower East Side, the Rockaways and Long Beach, and even if the help is not on that scale, it’s amazing how much chessed can be done with a simple electrical outlet! Mi K’Amcha Yisrael! This kind of selfless unity is what a community should be like, and not only at times of tragedy. Events like this remind us how powerless we are in the face of God’s awesome Might, as expressed through natural disasters, and how pointless and insignificant our egos and so many of our personal issues may be in the face of this kind of destruction, when we need to respond affirmatively and positively. The only way to counter wrathful devastation is through constructive love- as Dovid Hamelech wrote ki amarti, olam chesed yibaneh, the world is built through acts of kindness and charity, and it must be rebuilt in the same way. There is still a lot more to be done as people begin sorting through the wreckage and debris. Our friends and family will need help financially, physically and emotionally, and that is when we will put our best face forward.

About the Author: Rabbi Ariel Rackovsky is the rabbi of the Irving Place Minyan, a new Modern Orthodox Community in Woodmere, New York. He is a graduate of Yeshiva College and YU’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “Thoughts On Hurricane Sandy”

  1. Carina Carantes says:

    DECREED, DECLARED FROM MY CHURCH GOVERNANCE:
    @SLONE IS A CURSED DEAD GLOBAL TRASVESTITE WHORE, ESTABLISHED, DECREED, DECLARED AND HAS MANIFESTED IN HEAVEN, EARTH, EVERYWHERE ELSE FOREVER AND NOW BECAUSE @SLONE LIED TO THE HOLY SPIRIT WHICH IS BLASPHEMY, IS UNFORGIVABLE AND @SLONETOUCHED THE ANOINTING IN MY LIFE IN JESUS’ NAME THROUGH YOU MST HIGH GOD THE FLAME THROUGH YOUR POWER HOLY GHOST.

    #tcot DECLARED, DECREED FROM MY PROPHETIC OFFICE : WOE TO@SLONE COMMITTED BLASPHEMY AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT WHICH IS UNFORGIVABLE, ####BOOM!

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
A look inside the IAF war room
IDF to Stop Persecution of Observant Soldiers With Beards
Latest Judaism Stories
Dante's Vision of Rachel and Leah

Yitzhak called you Esav and you answered him, then he called you Yaakov and you also answered him!”

Rabbi Avi Weiss

Yitzchak thought the Jewish people needed dual leadership: Eisav the physical; Yaakov the spiritual

Weiss-112114-Sufganiot

According to the Sefer Yetzirah, the nature of the month of Kislev is sleep.

Teller-Rabbi-Hanoch-NEW

Though braggarts come across as conceited, their boasting often reflects a low sense of self-regard

Not every child can live up to our hopes or expectations, but every child is loved by Hashem.

Leaders must always pay attention to the importance of timing.

While our leaders have been shepherds, the vast majority of the Children of Israel were farmers.

Maimonides himself walked and prayed in the permissible areas when he visited Eretz Yisrael in 1165

If a man dies childless, the Torah commands the deceased’s brother to marry his brother’s widow in a ceremony known as yibum, or to perform a special form of divorce ceremony with her known as chalitzah.

Dovid turned to the other people sitting at his table. “I’m revoking my hefker of the Chumash,” he announced. “I want to keep it.”

Ever Vigilant
‘When Unworthy, One’s Number Of Years Is Reduced’
(Yevamos 50a)

Question: My young daughter was recently diagnosed with autism. She does not function well socially and is extremely introverted, but we have noticed that she reacts very well to small animals. We reported this to her therapist who suggested that we get a dog or cat as a pet. We know that most religious people frown upon having pets, but we hate to see our daughter suffer and want to do anything that would make her happy. Would it be okay to own a pet in the circumstances we described?

Her Loving Parents
(Via E-Mail)

Ramban interprets Korban as self-sacrifice, each Jew should attempt to recreate Akeidas Yitzchak.

Dr. Schwartz had no other alternatives up his sleeve. He suggested my mother go home and think about what she wanted to do.

Why does Lavan’s speaking before his father show that he was wicked? Disrespectful, yes. Rude, certainly. But a rasha?

More Articles from Rabbi Ariel Rackovsky
YU-112312-Trees

Usually, when I begin a speech, I start with something interesting, lighthearted or funny – to get your attention and lead into the speech itself. Permit me to deviate from that this week, because there is nothing funny, lighthearted or interesting about what so many of us are experiencing, and if not us, than our friends, loved ones and neighbors, and if not them, than people a few miles away from us in Long Beach or Far Rockaway who have lost everything to 14 foot waves, or a little farther away where helpless Senior Citizens are living without water or power in high rises on the Lower East Side.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/torah/thoughts-on-hurricane-sandy/2012/11/23/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: