This shocking declaration is mind-boggling on two levels: The first is the fact that many erliche Yidden learning in kollel and devoted ovdei Hashem, and their families were greatly inconvenienced or even harmed by the storm. So if these know-it-alls insist the storm was a divine punishment, why did these good people end up suffering?
Why did the storm hit Jerusalem, and many frum communities in other parts of the country, but not Tel-Aviv, the bastion of the secular government? After all, the Ten Plagues solely afflicted the Egyptians, while the Israelites were spared.
How can anyone claim to know Hashem’s thoughts? How can anyone say that he or she knows that the devastating storm was heavenly retribution for the Knesset’s attack on the Torah?
If we believe that all that Hashem does is ultimately for the best – even though it is beyond our ken and understanding and that His ways are inscrutable – then insisting that a nisayon is a punishment is tantamount to blasphemy.
I remember as a child, someone in the community lost his life in a freak accident, leaving behind a young widow and orphans. I later heard someone saying that it was discovered that a mezuzah in his house was pasul – some letters had been rubbed out.
It seemed to make the adults feel better that there was a “reason” for what had happened to him – a treif mezuzah – but I was appalled. Was Hashem so petty and wrathful that someone who was shomer mitzvoth but had inadvertently missed a detail of his observance deserved to have his life cut short leaving his wife a young widow and his children fatherless?
Then why bother with any of it since being human and imperfect, we will fall short no matter how hard we try or how conscientious we are, I wondered. I came to realize that people desperately need a “reason for why bad things happen to good people.” It makes them feel safer. The tragedy was “justifiable” they convince themselves.
And no, Hashem was not petty or punitive – He is Divine.
But I imagine that the people suffering from a great misfortune, whether it is an individual or family dealing with physical or mental illness, or infertility, or a loss of parnassah or shalom bayit issues etc., or a community dealing with the life-changing aftereffects of a hurricane, tornado, terrorist attack, plane crash, or a rare snow or ice storm, do not want some delusional self-appointed spokesman for the Master of the Universe to tell them they brought it on themselves.
Venting –the verbal equivalent of mood-enhancing exercise! I feel better already.