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

5 Comments

  • 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 STILL THINK THE RABBI HAS LOST HIS MARBLES,
    HE MIGHT AS WELL READ THE SIGNS IN THE FLIGHT
    OF BIRDS.
    WELL WE ONLY HAVE TO WAIT TILL THE END OF TIMES.

  • TO THE COMMENT RUTH:
    I DONT KNOW WHAT YOU ARE SAYING, I DONT HAVE THE SLIGHTEST CLUE BUT ANYWAY I WILL LOOK UP THE WORD “AMELIORATE”.
    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

    WALLA! THATS IT! YOU ARE A LIBERAL..

  • 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.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity When Torah Teaches Life and Life Teaches Torah (REVIEW)

    When Torah Teaches Life and Life Teaches Torah (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – Rabbi Gordon Tucker spent the first 20 years of his career teaching at the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) and the next 20 years as the rabbi of Temple Israel Center in White Plains, N.Y. I confess that when I heard about the order of those events, I thought that Tucker’s move from academia to the pulpit was strange. Firstly, I could not imagine anyone filling the place of my friend, Arnold Turetsky, who was such a talented [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Oscars 2015: Reflecting on Love at First Sight

    Oscars 2015: Reflecting on Love at First Sight

    JNS.org – I’m in love, and have been for a long time. It’s a relationship filled with laughter, tears, intrigue, and surprise. It was love at first sight, back when I was a little girl—with an extra-terrestrial that longed to go home. From then on, that love has never wavered, and isn’t reserved for one, but for oh so many—Ferris Bueller, Annie Hall, Tootsie, Harry and Sally, Marty McFly, Atticus Finch, Danny Zuko, Yentl, that little dog Toto, Mrs. Doubtfire, [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews Examining America’s First Foray into the Middle East (REVIEW)

    Examining America’s First Foray into the Middle East (REVIEW)

    At the turn of the 21st century through today, American involvement in Middle Eastern politics runs through the Central Intelligence Agency. In America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East, historian Hugh Wilford shows this has always been the case. Wilford methodically traces the lives and work of the agency’s three most prominent officers in the Middle East: Kermit “Kim” Roosevelt was the grandson of president Theodore Roosevelt, and the first head of [...]

    Read more →
  • Relationships US & Canada Seniors at Los Angeles Jewish Home Give Witty Dating Advice Ahead of Valentine’s Day (VIDEO)

    Seniors at Los Angeles Jewish Home Give Witty Dating Advice Ahead of Valentine’s Day (VIDEO)

    Residents of the Los Angeles Jewish Home give dating advice to a young Jewish man in a comedic video posted Monday on YouTube just in time for Valentine’s Day. Jonathan, an associate at the Jewish home, quizzes the senior citizens on an array of topics including having sex on the first date, kissing a girl, who should pay for dinner and whether online dating is a good idea. When the 28-year-old asks a male resident named Lee about his experiences [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish History Kutsher’s Documentary an Amazing, and Tragic, Look at the Past (REVIEW)

    Kutsher’s Documentary an Amazing, and Tragic, Look at the Past (REVIEW)

    Anyone who spent time in the Jewish Catskills hotels – especially those like me, who returned for decades – must see the new documentary,”Welcome to Kutsher’s: The Last Catskills Resort.” Not only will the film transport you back to the glory days of your youth and thousands of memories, but it will also make you long for a world that is now lost forever. I returned to Kutsher’s one last time in the summer of 2009, but by then, the [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Jewish Identity Lifestyle Riding the Wave of Change in Part-Time Jewish Education

    Riding the Wave of Change in Part-Time Jewish Education

    JNS.org – Amid the numerous studies and analyses regarding Jewish American life, a simple fact remains: part-time Jewish education is the most popular vehicle for Jewish education in North America. Whenever and wherever parents choose Jewish education for their children, we have a communal responsibility to devote the necessary time and resources to deliver dynamic, effective learning experiences. The only way we can do this is by creating space for conversations and knowledge-sharing around innovative new education models. That also [...]

    Read more →
  • Commentary Featured Features Jewish 100 The Top 100 People Positively Influencing Jewish Life, 2014

    The Top 100 People Positively Influencing Jewish Life, 2014

    The Top 100 People Positively Influencing Jewish Life, 2014 ACADEMIA Alain Finkielkraut Moshe Halbertal Deborah Lipstadt Jacob Metzer Steven Pinker Tammi Rossman-Benjamin ARTS AND CULTURE Yaacov Agam David Blatt Leonard Cohen Gal Gadot Scarlett Johansson Ryan Kavanaugh Steven Spielberg Harry Styles INNOVATION AND ACTIVISM Meira Aboulafia Adina Bar-Shalom Nitsana Darshan-Leitner Daniel Gold Anett Haskia Ephrat Levy-Lahad Gabriel Nadaf Dumisani Washington GOVERNMENT Tony Abbott José María Aznar Ron Dermer Yuli Edelstein Abdul Fatah el-Sisi Stephen Harper Goodluck Jonathan Mitch McConnell Narendra Modi [...]

    Read more →
  • Features Jewish 100 Jewish 100, 2014: Bassam Eid – Voices

    Jewish 100, 2014: Bassam Eid – Voices

    Bassam Eid Palestinian human rights activist While Palestinians who demonize Israel as the sole reason for their woes receive no shortage of media invitations, those among them who spotlight their own leaders’ iniquities are far less in demand. Even so, the profile of Bassam Eid, the Director of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, is thankfully continuing to grow. Eid’s latest campaign is for the overhaul of UNRWA, the UN refugee agency dedicated solely to the Palestinians, which he says [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.