Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

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. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Jewish former CNN host Larry King asked a Saudi Arabian fan if taking pictures with Jews is allowed in his country, before agreeing to pose for a photo with the man, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. The world-famous interviewer was leaving the Ritz Carlton hotel in Washington, D.C. with a New York Times reporter when a “dark-skinned man” approached and asked to take a picture with him, according to the publication. Whereupon, King asked the fan where he was from. When the man said Saudi […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    British-Jewish business tycoon Lord Alan Sugar joked on Wednesday that London synagogues will likely be empty during Yom Kippur with congregants fleeing to watch the match-up of two leading English soccer teams known for having hordes of Jewish fans. “Spurs V Arsenal cup game drawn on most important Jewish festival,” Lord Sugar pointed out on Twitter. “Both teams have loads of Jewish fans. Conclusion Synagogues will be empty.” North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal FC will go head-to-head in the Capital One Cup third-round […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Two Jewish men were the only unwitting participants in a social experiment conducted by Jimmy Kimmel, for his popular TV show. As part of a candid-camera-like sketch featured Monday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the host devised different street scenes to observe human behavior — in particular, to see how long it would take people walking down California’s bustling Hollywood Boulevard to notice and interact with others in distress. One scene involved a man in a Spongebob Squarepants costume who had “fallen down” on the sidewalk and needed help […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    A major Jewish organization rebuked actress Natalie Portman on Monday for saying in a recent interview that Jews put too much emphasis on teaching about the Holocaust relative to other genocides. The Israeli-born movie star told the U.K.’s Independent that the Jewish community needs to examine how much focus it puts on Holocaust education over other issues. She said she was shocked when she learned that a genocide was taking place in Rwanda while she was in school learning only about the horrors of the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    JNS.org – A new book that draws parallels between the Holocaust and the Palestinian Nakba (the Arabic term for the displacement of Palestinian refugees during Israel’s War of Independence) has sparked outrage ahead of an official book launch, to be hosted by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute on Sept. 7. The Zionist organization Im Tirtzu wrote a letter to the institute demanding that it cancel an event it planned in honor of the book’s authors, under the title The Holocaust and […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Famed actress Natalie Portman warned on Friday against the use of Holocaust education to evoke fear and paranoia. In an interview with the U.K. Independent she added that the trauma should make Jews more empathetic to others who have also experienced hatred. “Sometimes it can be subverted to fearmongering and like ‘Another Holocaust is going to happen,’” the Israeli-American star said. “We need to, of course, be aware that hatred exists, antisemitism exists against all sorts of people, not in the same way. I […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    The Tribalist, by Louis Marano, is ostensibly a work of fiction but at its core a kind of love song by a gentile journalist for the State of Israel, and especially its secular Zionist core. (Because of the relentless attacks by left-wing polemicists on Israel’s allegedly “messianic” fringe, it’s often forgotten that most of Israel’s founders and all its leaders have been secular Zionists.) The author, the product of an Italian-American family in Buffalo, served two tours of duty in […]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    JNS.org – Rugelach (singular: rugala) are a beloved traditional Jewish pastry, with a quirky history to boot, but they often present a kosher conundrum. Though parve rugelach are often a preferred dessert after a meat meal for those observing kosher laws (which stipulate a waiting period between eating meat and dairy), some of today’s most popular rugelach are known for their dairy fillings. Pastry chef Paula Shoyer—author of the books “The Kosher Baker: Over 160 Dairy-free Recipes from Traditional to Trendy” and […]

    Read more →