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Hurricane Sandy: Act of God?

November 4, 2012 3:33 pm 5 comments

Flooding in Marblehead, Massachusetts, caused by Hurricane Sandy. Photo: The Birks.

Editor’s note: Simon Jacobson’s article, The Deeper Message of Hurricane Sandy, has provoked many responses, including some concerned with the religious perspective on the disaster. We therefore bring you a follow-up addition from the author of the original article.

It goes without saying that Hurricane Sandy and the deaths and devastation that it wrought — as well as all disasters (“natural” or not) — are not seen by Jews as divine “punishments” or “retribution.” In no way do we ever try to justify death and destruction. Our hearts go out to all those who suffered losses and we actually challenge G-d to live up to His promises of compassion and love to all His children and to His entire creation. As such, in the name of our absolute belief and commitment to goodness, we do everything in our power to help those that have suffered and pray that everyone should be blessed with long and healthy lives.

Yet, as sensitive human beings we also look to learn deeper lessons from any event, especially a calamity. We don’t ignore the event; we see it as an opportunity for personal introspection and growth.

Though all this is self understood, due to the fact that there may be those that have a distorted view on Judaism (and may project their own stereotypes on this critical issue (see for example here) — I recommend reading another elaborate article on the topic which I wrote in response to those that suggested blaming Hurricane Katirna on the Israeli withdrawal at the time from  Gaza.

Here is a link to the article: Katrina and Gaza

And here is a link to another related article: The Soul of a Hurricane: Exclusive Interview


  • Lawrence Kulak

    There is a basic premise in the Torah, I believe it is mentioned in Mesechta Shabbos, that man is punished for his sins alone and not for others. For that reason alone, I would be reluctant to link Hurricane Katrina to the Gaza withdrawa. However, we also know from the story of Shechem in the Torah, that when these people were killed out by Yaakov’s sons for raping Dina, they were all worthy of death due to their neglect of the Noahide Laws. Hashem may choose certain times for disasters occur, when certain sins coincide with certain other events. Hashem has patience and can wait until he is ready to act which can be a very long time, and then he can also choose to act sooner as a ‘hint’ that there is also some other objectionable things going on. I definitely think that Hashem hinted to us about Gaza when Hurrican Katrina came even though the people still deserved it for other reasons. Hashem does everything for a reason and I believe does it in a way that we can figure things out – if we sincerely try.


    I was thinking it must be a mexican dish being you posted enchilada… I dont know…
    but you must be sayin’ sumptin senora.
    You also posted “karmic”, ARE YOU FROM THE HIMALAYAS AND A BUDDIST?
    Being I read shelock holmes novels which makes me automatically a detective of some “karmic” standing…
    I guess you REALLY are from california and moved to study to india to study karma.
    TRY BOTTLED WATER,its safer then that california water from the streams that breed the minnows that were protected preventing the farmers from using the water to farm the crops that feed the people that pay the taxes and vote for liberals..but I love those ‘john dere’ tractors. They really can shake the earth.and thats not from sin its from pure raw horse power.juist dont stand to close. HEY RUTHIE, DO YOU LIKE PANCAKES? The tractor made me think of pancakes


  • You cannot justify a mighty storm’s devastating effects to people, animals, and the like to retributive justice of some kind. You cannot blame people for suffering, as if they drew it upon themselves in some karmic way or in this life have to repent for something they did. That is really terribly wrong. IF you believe in Divine Providence, even then it is incumbent on people to work with the after-effecs of such a calamity towards repair, and to support everyone in trouble, The only true meaning that can be derived from suffering is what we do with it afterwards in a positive and caring manner. As to G-d, you cannot second guess a Divine power, except to act in these positive ways, We do know, the motive force, that force which brings meaning into our lives, is just this, what we call Tikkun Olam. One could say we need the broken parts, to have something to repair, but we cannot justify the pain ever, in having these broken parts. IF you believe it’s G_d running the show, then you have to perhaps, add another belief, as people fall, and that is, it’s not over, when… it’s over. Maybe something in all this references the idea of Maya, or illusion. Maybe what we see, is not the entire enchilada, or everything bagel. Maybe the story’s not over, by a longshot. We can always, Wait, and Hope, and Act in the meantime to ameliorate this broken world. That’s a FACT, and ACT is contained by the word, FACT.

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