Photo Credit: Jewish Press

In response to natural disasters, great rabbinic leaders have often offered explanations for why they occurred while guiding and comforting the people through the hardship.

I recently acquired a work titled Sam Hayim, which was published in Calcutta, India in 1897. On June 12, 1897, an earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 8.3 killed 1,542 people and caused heavy property damage. In Calcutta, which had a sizable Jewish community, the damage and injuries were extensive. Many people were left homeless and penniless.


Sam Hayim, based on the writings of R. Hayim Palagi (1788-1868), attempts to explain why the earthquake took place; outlines what the response should be; suggests lessons that can be learned; and features prayers and meditations to protect oneself and one’s family from its effects.

Among these are prayers for a fast day as well as a tikkun karet ceremony (an order of study for repenting and correcting transgressions whose punishment is an untimely death).


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Israel Mizrahi is the owner of Mizrahi Bookstore in Brooklyn, NY, and He can be reached at [email protected].