Today the world trembles

Thursday, 7 September, 2017 - 5:59 pm

This has been a busy storm season. The US is bracing itself for another major hurricane. Hurricane Harvey is just barely in the rearview mirror as Irma churns through the Caribbean with two more on her heels. Every time a major natural disaster strikes some “wise guy” gets up and pontificates about how the storm is a punishment for this, that or the other. We Katrina survivors recall well how all kinds of folks blamed it on this sin or that offense. Preachers of every stripe rushed to judgement of why G-d would be punishing New Orleans or the USA at this particular time…

Now I certainly believe that G-d runs the universe and that there are consequences for choices that we make. (I am not referring to the natural and scientific explanations for what is happening. I refer strictly to the realm of theology, which IMO is not a contradiction.) However, until one of those clergypersons shows me the memo from G-d or evidence that they are the recipients of prophetic vision, I would encourage them to stop with these foolish pronouncements that are so hurtful and insensitive to the victims of those storms or natural disasters. Does not Isaiah state, “My thoughts are not your thoughts?” How can a person have the chutzpah to speak in G-d’s name without being asked to do so?

In the spirit of the above sentiment, I would like suggest that it would still behoove us to take personal stock of our spiritual situation to see if there is room for improvement in our lives. I am not suggesting that we blame ourselves, but rather that we consider how we can better the situation and bring the world to a closer relationship with Hashem, thereby eliciting Hashem’s blessing for the world.

On Rosh Hashanah We recite this passage after the sounding of the shofar, “Hayom Harat Olam – today the world trembles, today of all of creation stands to be judged.” We believe that Hashem is a loving G-d Who only wants the best for us and all of His creation. Perhaps by improving our lives and gently influencing those around us to do the same, we can heighten our spiritual sensitivity and begin to appreciate all that Hashem does. And as the passage continues, we ask that Hashem should deal compassionately with the universe.

The Rebbe would often use the phrase “tov hanireh  v’hanigleh – open and revealed good” when bestowing a blessing upon people. We ask that there be no need to strain ourselves to figure out the hidden good in what Hashem does, as all blessings will come to us as open and revealed good.

May Hashem spare us of the wrath of these storms and all trouble and distress. May Hashem grant each and every one of us a good, sweet, healthy, prosperous and meaningful year of 5778.

Our condolences to Barbara Polikoff, upon the passing of her mother, Muriel. May you be comforted by the Omnipresent One among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Shabbat Shalom from Los Angeles
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin 

Comments on: Today the world trembles
There are no comments.