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Is a Tsunami a message?
No one could help but be stunned by the magnitude of the disaster in Asia. But news reports and images can never give us an idea of the immensity of the suffering, pain and loss endured by those directly affected.
When we hear an individual story of pain and suffering it is possible for us to partially feel the grief that the other is enduring. But when it becomes a group of people, or hundreds of thousands of people — or six million people — it becomes virtually impossible to comprehend it.
Furthermore, human beings have an amazing knack for making themselves believe that “it could never happen to us”. This, in turn, makes us less concerned about the disaster as we go about our business as usual.
But the opposite is true. When suffering comes upon one part of the world or one segment of the population, we must believe that this is part of Divine intervention (Hashgaha Peratith) even if, as in a few cases, it is not.
Saying “it can’t happen here” is not sufficient to push away a bad decree against us. We must make a Tiqqun (rectification) for ourselves. How can this be achieved? By making earnest Teshubah (repentance) and increasing our Miswoth (good deeds).
We have to guard ourselves and prepare our defences. We must build a wall that will be a barrier against calamity and disater. This wall is built by the diligent study of Torah, Tefillah (prayer) and Teshubah (repentance). One should not make the excuse that one is too busy to study Torah. No man should let the day pass without reading the daily portion of Hoq LeYisrael. But it is almost certainly possible to set aside more time than that for Torah study.
Our Rabbis of blessed memory tell us in the Gemara of Berakhoth: Sha’arei Dim’ah Lo Nin’alu (the gates of tears are not closed). In addition, when one makes sincere Teshubah and calls out to G-d in prayer with tears in one’s eyes, these tears are used to mix the cement which will build the wall that protects us.
This does not detract from the fact that we are commanded to take exceeding care of ourselves. We must not put ourselves in harm’s way and must do whatever we can to always protect ourselves. But whenever disaster strikes, however far away from us it may be, it must serve as a warning to us to immediately return to the path that G-d expects of us.
May the merit of the this Teshubah and the suffering in the world an bring the coming of the redemption and the Mashiyah speedily in our days, Amen.
Written by Rabbi Ya’aqob Menashe, Hy”w
based on the writings of
Hakham Yoseph Hayyim,
in Mayim Hayyim