Apr 26, 2015

Natural Disasters and Our Response

In 1923, Japan experienced a devastating earthquake.  In addition, or as a result of the earthquake, there were a typhoon, landslides and a tsunami.  Altogether, the earthquake and typhoon killed an estimated 99,300 people, and another 43,500 were missing.

Japanese commentators interpreted the disaster as an act of divine punishment to admonish the Japanese people for their self-centered, immoral, and extravagant lifestyles.

R' Chatzkel Levenstein recalled the Chofetz Chaim’s comments at the time of an earthquake in Japan, which resulted in thousands of deaths. “I remember that he said it had happened because there were no Torah scholars in Japan.” (Or Yechezkel, Middos)

Two years later, when a powerful earthquake hit Russia, destroying entire cities and causing many fatalities, the Chofetz Chaim wrote a powerful letter about it.

"Several weeks ago I publicized an essay concerning the great earthquake that happened in our land. In that essay I encouraged Klal Yisrael to do teshuva and that the earthquake was a warning to the entire world that they should repent of their evil ways and believe in Hashem Who controls all. Not for naught did all these terrifying and frightening things of this year come upon us. And now, we hear new and terrifying information about the great flood that took place in our land and the great earthquake that took place in Russia in which were killed and injured thousands of men, women and children and many livestock; many of them were buried alive. Even in our land we experienced some tremors of this earthquake. Certainly any thinking person should be gripped by fear and trembling as to what Hashem has done to us. The One who is good and does good to all and is merciful on all of His creations, and does not even desire the death of the wicked, as it says 'By My life, says Hashem, I do not desire the death of the wicked one, but rather that he repent and live'(Yechezkel 33).The understanding person will realize that Hashem is urging us to do teshuva and is showing us all that He has the power to as He pleases, and none of His creations of above or below can tell Him what to do. And it is clear to me that if we had prophets sent from Hashem, they would without doubt be standing guard to urge Jews to do teshuva to our Father in heaven. Because, with our evil deeds we have no prophets or divine messengers in our times, He is urging us through other messengers to do teshuva, as it says 'He makes winds-his messengers; burning fire-his servants."'

1 comment:

  1. linking disasters to sins is no longer politically correct but it is a big aveira to be politically correct