Haiti and the Mind of G-d

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5 Responses

  1. Bob Miller says:

    Given our overall lack of understanding, events of this type could be taken as cues to improve our own behavior, even if there is no obvious connection to ourselves. This would be a lot healthier than trying to place blame.

  2. Shua Cohen says:

    We say thrice daily, in the second paragraph of Aleinu, that we hope to see the day when, during the final geula, the Ribbono Shel Olam will remove idolatry from the earth and cuts off all false gods. Well, isn’t it possible that that day has arrived? [“Look up “Haitian Vodou” on Wikipedia: it is one of the most egregious examples of idolatry and witchcraft extant in the world today].

    There has been much written suggesting that we are NOW in the ultimate times of chevlei Moshiach (birth pangs of Messiah). See, for example:

    1) “Redemption Unfolding” (Feldheim) by Rabbi A. Mandelbaum, of Yeshivas Mir in Yerushalayim; or
    2) “A Question of Redemption” (Kol Mevaser Publ.) by Rabbi Y.M. Bergman; or
    3) “On Eagles Wings” (Targum/Feldheim) by Rabbi Hershel Brand of Yeshivas Ner Yaakov; or
    4) “What’s Next: Doomsday and Redemption,” a fascinating shiur by Rabbi Eliyahu Kin of the Torah Ohr Center in Los Angeles (viewable on YouTube).

    HaRav Simcha Wasserman zt”l (in “Reb Simcha Speaks”) and HaRav Aharon Feldman shlit”a, Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Yisrael (in “The Eye of the Storm”) address this issue of chevlei Moshiach in our day, as well.

    So, if perchance we are there, we do have an inkling as to what to expect. Both Navi’im and Chazal have told us that during the time of chevlei Moshiach the world will experience many man-made and natural disasters, and that many people will perish. I am amazed at how many blog commenters on the issue of current natural disasters seem to be in denial of this, apparently for the sake of ‘political correctness.’

    But how do we ignore an incredibly prescient Droshos HaRan (Hadrush Hashishi) where we find the following statement: “Sometimes events occur in faraway places and on faraway islands in order to stir Israel to do teshuva, with dread and fear, lest the same punishment come upon them. This is what the prophet said (Tzefanya 3:6-7): ‘I have destroyed nations, I have laid waste their towers, and I have turned their streets into desolate ruins, and left their cities devastated and uninhabited. I said simply: Fear Me and learn a lesson.’ When you do not suffer in response to the terrible tragedies of others, the punishment does not end; rather, it travels closer and closer to you. There is no doubt that these landmark events are truly warnings from Hashem.”

  3. dr. bill says:

    Rabbi Feldman, You write: “This is what the genuine prophet Zecharia meant when he said, in 14:9, “On that day G-d will be one and His name will be one.” Until then, G-d’s ways remain concealed – even from those who would claim to have full access to His divine chambers.”

    We never can know why; that equates to knowing the ways of God. That, as Isaiah (55:) says so eloquently, is beyond our human comprehension. As the Rav ztl taught in the beginning of Kol Dodi Dofaik, we can only hope to react properly, not by understanding why but by acting with greater attention to our religious obligations.

  4. Zvi says:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but are there not sources in Chazal attributing particular natural disasters or occurences to specific sins?

    [YA – Yes, but that does not mean a point-to-point correspondence between a sin and the disaster. Maharal in particular opines that Chazal understood that there were natural explanations for disasters. Particular aveiros, however, are the reason why HKBH designed a world in which such disasters could occur. See Be’er HaGolah pgs 63-63 and Netzach Yisrael pgs.113-114. See also my essay “Earthquakes and the Fuzziness of Creation” in Be’er HaGolah (Artscroll) pgs. 122-132]

  5. One Christian's perspective says:

    Rabbi Feldman, your article reflected the sadness that I felt when I heard about these insensitive remarks at a time of great suffering. Were they necessary, were they helpful, did they bring Glory to God ? The ministry of this particular religious leader has had people on the ground for years helping the poor of Haiti and some of the Haitians agree with his statement. During the aftermath of Katrina, I heard – from TV- similar comments from Christians as they boarded the bus to leave New Orleans. Since I do not live in either place, it is hard to know what the religious/anti-religious climate is there.

    Recently I read an article written by Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks “Thank God for the courage to live with adversity”. It was beautiful and uplifting but he began with a comment about the recession and closed with a comment about the wake-up call, which is what the recession is.” He is right ! In the midst of a recession within a world overcome with greed and its consequences, God has softened our hearts toward the people of Haiti – strangers to most of us; He has brought us to our knees to pray for those suffering and for those who are trying to help; and in the midst of a great recession, He has opened our wallets and storehouses so that we can with joy and eagerness send what ever we can for the relief. I rejoice that both Christian and Jew can share Rabbi Sacks prayer published on this site.

    If you believe God is Sovereign, you have to acknowledge that He is also an active participant in the course of human history and not a silent observer who sees from a great distance.

    I appreciate your words spoken in honesty and concern. There is much truth in being careful to discern words of others who claim to know God’s purpose and plan.

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