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Sunday, August 28, 2005

Who Knew?

My 8 -year-old came in to my room a while ago to ask me why God is allowing Hurricane Katrina to hit Louisiana if He promised Noach to never bring another flood on the Earth. I explained to her that God promised that he would never bring another flood on the whole Earth, but that a smaller flood like the one that Hurricane Katrina is being predicted to cause is not what God meant when He showed Noach the rainbow. She then asked me why God would want to bring even a small flood on us, and risk killing people. I told her we can't know why Hashem does what he does, but we can only daven (pray) that He spares the people living near the hurricane zone.

A little while later, I was perusing JRants, and realized that I gave my daughter an incorrect answer. According to both R' Lazer Brody, and Sultan Knish, the cause for the huge Category 5 hurricane that is bearing down on New Orleans is... the disengagement. That's right, folks, the pullout from the Gaza Strip that took place last week is the source of Hurricane Katrina. From R' Brody's blog:
Katrina is hitting just as the bulldozers are completing the destruction of Gush Katif. The Talmud teaches that Hashem administers the world according to the "ATFAT" principle, in other words, "a turn for a turn". My heart tells me that there's a link between the forced expulsion of 8500 people from their blood, sweat, and tear-soaked homes in Israeli Gaza and between the nearly 850,000 people who are forced to flee from their homes in Louisiana. Sharon, at the prodding of the American government, has destroyed hallowed centers of prayer, Torah learning, and settlement in the Land of Israel. Hashem isn't wasting much time in showing His wrath. In fact, Katrina has chosen Ms. Rice's home state as a target; I humbly believe that the unfortunate people of Louisiana can blame Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice for their misfortune. This is a classic ATFAT situation: He who creates exiles in the Holy Land, will have a hundred-fold exiles in his own land.
Don't forget to read the whole post for a particularly... creative Gematria.
Sultan Knish has a similar take:
What does a hurricane have to do with God or Gaza? Read on and you might see a strong connection.
Right now a category 5 hurricane is headed for the Gulf states. Is there a connection?
The "Sultan" goes through a list of historical events in which Jews have been oppressed, and ends with a history of the Mideast "Road Map". The final event he lists:
2005 The United States pressured Israel to follow the "road map" and give up the Gaza strip. This went into effect August 15, 2005.

...The U.S. has had economic trouble and seems to be on an upturn. However, I, just from the records above, say that the U.S. economy is headed for the pits. There will be blame thrown right and left and economic and political talk, but the Bible and history tell us the real reason.
May God have mercy on the U.S.
I think that we need to begin to see events on the world scene in a new light.
Its not really a new light: the hand of God in world affairs.
Now, excuse me, while I go clear things up with my daughter.


Anonymous Rachel Ann said...

Yeah, or it's do to homosexuality, abortion and feminisim, immodest dress etc. etc. Funny how no-one mentions unfair business practices or treating widows (which included women whose husbands were quite alive thank you, but had abandoned them) and orphans poorly.

I prefer your original answer. Don't know, I'm not G-d. It is less satisfying abut it is also truthful.

12:44 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

I prefer your original answer. Don't know, I'm not G-d. It is less satisfying abut it is also truthful.

I prefer my original answer too.

12:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cant believe 2 seperate bloggers said the same idiotic thing.

12:55 AM  
Blogger Balabusta in Blue Jeans said...

I believe it explicitly says at the end of the Torah that never again rose a prophet like Moshe who spoke to God as one would to a friend.

Weirdly enough, we now seem to have an endless supply of prophets who know all of God's plans and motivations and feel free to talk about them at length.

The idea that it's easy to see that innocent people in New Orleans are facing the destruction of their homes because they live in the home state of an American government official whose administration supported the actions of the Israeli administration that actually ordered the event that upset the Almighty (got that chain of responsibility? Good, because I don't) is too arrogant and stupid for words.

My rabbi is fond of saying that children are not punished for the sins of their parents. Even less is anyone punished because they share a state with a politician.

Now that I've got that off my chest, I should also mention that Condoleezza Rice was born in Birmingham, Alabama. She went to college in Colorado. She was on the faculty of Stanford University, in California, for a long time, and now lives in Washington D.C. Is there a strong Louisiana connection I'm not aware of?

1:03 AM  
Blogger Shifra said...

All that means is that residents of AL CA, CO, and DC had better watch out because they are God next target!

Playing God (making up reasons for why people live and die) really gets under my skin. If only they would be that introspective when something happens to them....

6:43 AM  
Anonymous shanna said...

Now that I've got that off my chest, I should also mention that Condoleezza Rice was born in Birmingham, Alabama. She went to college in Colorado. She was on the faculty of Stanford University, in California, for a long time, and now lives in Washington D.C. Is there a strong Louisiana connection I'm not aware of?


Put me down for another vote for your first answer. It almost had me tearing up at work, actually.

8:10 AM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

"Now that I've got that off my chest, I should also mention that Condoleezza Rice was born in Birmingham, Alabama. "

Yes but, Condoleezza sounds a lot like Louisiana. No?

8:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you, and while I should be mature enough to desist from getting involved, I'm not.

One question for the Readers of the Divine Mind - how can you be sure that Katrina is not a response to the protests against disengagement?

- Alex Yuribiov

9:00 AM  
Anonymous shanna said...

Besides, everyone knows the hurricane is because G-d doesn't like gumbo and jambalayah...

Right. Because God Hates Shrimp.

9:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're all wrong.It's human hair sheitels,cellphones,Pesach in the country and the tuition crisis.Most of all it's the RCA refusing to go to the Israeli bet din with RMT.

10:36 AM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

Here's the vort (quite relevant to this discussion) that I gave at the Shnabbos table the weekend before last:

As the beginning of poroshas Vo'esHannan, Moses pleads to God to allow him to enter Eres Yisra'el. Moses begins his prayer with shěvach: אדני י' אתה החילּת להראות את עבדך את גדלך ואת ידך החזקה "O Lord GOD, thou hast begun to show thy servant thy greatness, and thy mighty hand". By using the words atta hahillotha, "thou hast begun", Moses shows humility, by making sure not to claim that he himself has actually been shown a great deal of God's essence. The RALBA"G points out that this teaches us that is it important to recognize that we cannot attain an understanding of any more than a tiny, tiny part of God's essence.

I add the following: Whenever there is a leader of a group who claims that he or she knows exactly what God is thinking, or what God is planning, or what God wants, such a person is dangerous. For behold, even Moshe Rabbenu, who understood more about God than anyone else, did not say more than "atta haHillotha", that God had begun to show him a bissel of His gěvurta and yědha taqqifta.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Gil Student said...

You'd think God would be aiming at Ariel Sharon. But clearly His ways are beyond our comprehension.

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe none of those clowns blamed it on the Mardi Gras debaucheries!

2:27 PM  
Blogger Rebeljew said...

Reading these two blogs, I cannot help wondering if Heshy (heshyshouse.blogspot.com), who seems to have stopped updating, has just changed his name and branched out.

2:37 PM  
Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

:א"ר אלעזר בר אבינא

אין פורענות באה לעולם אלא בשביל ישראל

שנאמר (צפניה ג) הכרתי גוים נשמו פנותם החרבתי חוצותם וכתיב (צפניה ג) אמרתי אך תיראי אותי תקחי מוסר

מסכת יבמות דף ס"ג ע"א

3:43 PM  
Blogger Rebeljew said...

OK Jameel

But it doesn't say, event X caused effect Y. Only a navi can speak to that.

3:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rav Moshe Cordovero in Tomer Devora writes pretty strongly about the moral inversion necessary to claim that misfortunte befalls another person because they deserved it.
Wish I had the quote here, it's in the first chapter.
-Alan Scott

4:51 PM  
Anonymous sultan knish said...

now that we've gotten the snide remarks out of the way along with the snickering from the sophisticated in their own minds set...

...Hashem does not randomly do things. We may not be certain why a particular event happens but it is important to investigate and ponder why it did happen and what it means. When an earthquake struck japan, the chofetz chaim called for fasting and repentance and said that it had occured because there were no talmidei chachamim in japan. Now that's the sort of thing you may see as a good target for snickering but then fortunate is this generation that we have such people far wiser than the chofetz chaim.

the Torah has said quite simple Mevorchecha Baruch U'Mekallelcha Arrur, those who bless you I will bless and those who curse you I will curse

pause in the snickering for a moment to contemplate the faint possibility that Hashem actually meant what he said

now feel free to return to your regularly scheduled snickering

6:13 PM  
Blogger Rebeljew said...

But sultan ridiculous

HE IS THE CHOFETZ CHAYIM!!! And YOU ARE NOT! Isn't that the point?

7:20 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

And, Sultan, if it is impossible for us to know the mind of God, how can we make assertions that we know why such and such an event occurred? I don't see how even the Chofetz Chayim could make such an assertion - presumably there were no talmidei chachamim in Japan because there weren't any Jews there! Does that mean that only places with no Jews will receive curses from God? I don't see how history or current events bears that out at all.

If the point is for Jews to engage in introspection on what we've done wrong, either in the Gaza disengagement or anywhere else, wouldn't it be more rational (and more in accord with what it says in the Torah) to think that we would suffer the repercussions ourselves? I certainly get that impression from reading the second paragraph of the Sh'ma. If we turn away from God and worship idols, then the rains will stop, our land will dry up, nothing will grow, and we will be faced with famine. Why should people in Louisiana, who had nothing to do with the disengagement, suffer because of something Jews did or didn't do in Gaza?

Does being Jewish mean we have to stop thinking and leave rationality behind?

9:16 PM  
Anonymous sultan knish said...

rebel and if the chofetz chaim said it would you accept it?

12:02 AM  
Anonymous sultan knish said...

rebecca, we cannot state beyond a shadow of a doubt but we can explore the issue

firstly the world is blessed through the Jews and the lands are blessed through Eretz Yisrael. the sacrifices brought for the 70 nations in the bais hamikdash helped protect the world

Hashem tells Avraham Avinu that those who bless you will be blessed, those who curse you will be cursed. America's prosperity is tied to the Jews, as has historically that of many nations

when America harms Israel, it is not too farfetched that an equal and opposite reaction occurs as well

12:07 AM  
Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

RebelJew: All I did was quote the Gemara. You can interpret it as you wish.

X may not have caused Y, but Y definitly happened (according to the Gemara) for the sake of Israel, even if we have no mortal understanding of why.

3:03 AM  
Blogger Rebeljew said...

Jameel, it was not the quote but your interpretation of it that is absurd.

SK, the chofetz chaim was saying a principle, not a prophecy. The presence of Talmidei Chachamim protects a place from physical harm. He did not mean that X is G-d's cheshbon and he has said Y. I think he would tell you that himself (though now I am making Cheshbonos for him, but it seems obvious and is consistent with a proper derech and many other similar statements).

7:22 AM  
Blogger Gil Student said...

I think Tanakh gives ample examples of punishments that were brought about by non-Jews.

8:42 AM  
Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

RebelJew: Excuse me? What interpretation did I give that was "absurd"? All I did was quote the Gemara, and write pshat (see any English or Hebrew translation you wish Artscroll, Shteinzalts, etc.)

"X may not have caused Y, but Y definitly happened (according to the Gemara) for the sake of Israel, even if we have no mortal understanding of why."

I didn't write that the Hitnatkut caused this calamity, yet this calamity according to the Gemara's opinion stated by ר אלעזר בר אבינא
is that the hurricane is באה לעולם אלא בשביל ישראל

Please explain how I'm misinterpreting the Gemara? Unless you don't consider the hurricane disaster פורענות

I would think that the hurricane would count as פורענות but maybe you have a different opinion on the definiton.

9:17 AM  
Blogger rebba shlita said...

you are all offbase for bashing these two people if you people stop acting like the babies that you are for just one second and actually listen to what he is saying you might say he is right. it shows in the follow up responses from the sultan that all he is saying is we should be careful us as the jewish people that this is happening for a reason and that maybe we should work on ourselves. yes we dont know that katrina is directly the cause of on situation but there is a strong chance it is done for a diff. reason. we are approaching elul and maybe just maybe we should look at ourselves first before the sultan bashing.
and orthomom your answer to your 8 year old is fine and correct we dont know, but has-em always gives us chances and an article like this your only attention was bad, and to get the snickering remarks if you did not agree keep it to yourself, i am suprised at you i might not agree with you all the time but you are creative and seem educated printing this you only had one thing in mind. i will bet if it was someone you know who said it you would look at it in a diff. light. it seems lately you like to jew bash shame on you, your true colors are coming out.

10:02 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Rebbe Shlita:
i am suprised at you i might not agree with you all the time but you are creative and seem educated printing this you only had one thing in mind. i will bet if it was someone you know who said it you would look at it in a diff. light.

Surely you jest. I call 'em like I see 'em. My dear husband could have been the author of these thoughts and I would still disagree with them. As politely as I disagreed with them here.

it seems lately you like to jew bash shame on you, your true colors are coming out.

Again, you can't be serious. Here you are, criticizing ME for posting something - and you are doing so in a VERY impolite manner, I might add - and yet, when I politely disagree with something that another blogger has publicly posted, I am a "Jew-basher". You must be able to see the absurdity of your hypocrisy.

10:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this problem is occuring because an improper attitude was combined with an elevated moral sentiment.

Rabbi Elazar's statement in the Gemara is a fine moral teaching. When bad things happen, examine your faults. It applies to Yehudim, non-Yidden, all people and circumstances. We see from the Tanach (sefer Yonah, parashat Balak, sefer Amos, etc.) that the same rules of Prophecy, Reward, and Punishment apply to everyone. Since we can assume that Rabbi Elazar knew the Tanach like the back of his hand, it's reasonable to assert that his statement (being directed towards Israel) is meant to challenge us from assuming that any tragedy is irrelevant to us. We shouldn't think "Oh these people are suffering because of their sins" (god forbid) or even "These people are suffering because of the sins of other people we equally don't like" (forbid again). We should instead look at catastrpohes and think "How can this spur me to improve myself and God's olam?" That's why the pasuk R' El quotes from Tzefanya says clearly "tikchi musar" - learn a moral lesson from this.

Unfortunately, this wonderful sentiment -- when combined with the self-satisfied triumphalism of some segments of the religious world, the arrogant assumption that one's personal opinions on political matters are echoed by the Kadosh Baruch Him/Herself, and the beyond-all-limits sense of entitlement that some individuals have to pass judgement on all others while reserving all divine approval for themselves -- turns into the ugliest kind of self-serving fake-religious hatred. There are people whose entire lives are in ruins, entire cities underwater, and you're using pettily this opportunity to score points against your political foes? It's gross.

(and incidentally, "mebarecha avarech/mekalelcha a-or" isn't a statement of thugs and mafiosos, so don't interpret it as such.)
-Alan Scott

10:42 AM  
Blogger Rebeljew said...


I confused your post with that of another commenter. My apologies. You are correct. (Don't laugh, you will be old one day.)

10:50 AM  
Blogger rebba shlita said...

ok iwas very harsh for that i am sorry, but this is not about journalism you are a frum woman from a good family, and what upsets me not only with this article but with others as well certain b/c you dont agree should be left alone. you have a strong following of your blogg and i admit for good reason as i said it before you have good insights, but in this case you put the sultan in front of a firing squad. and another example was your blog on the stabbing your intentions could have been good but you show that to ten people and at least nine will comment on the vandilism, and not the stabbing. and that was my point, again i was harsh i apologize but certain things should be left to ponder and not blogged. we are frum people and we play by diff. rules than newspapers do just b/c its a jewish blogg or even a jewish press it does not mean we can print anything.

10:52 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

rebbe shlita:
Apology accepted.
I still, however disagree. Since when does Orthodox Judaism dictate that one cannot disagree with others' views? That back-and-forth is what most halachik discourse consists of. I feel perfectly comfortable pointing out flaws that I find in the Orthodox world, which is my world too. Many times these are problems I myself can work on. I'll admit that at times, I focus on things that I find upsetting to get them off my chest, which can give some posts a very negative vibe. That point is well taken, and I will try to focus on some of the wonderful things that I gain by living an Orthodox lifestyle in future posts.

11:05 AM  
Blogger rebba shlita said...

i also agree to not be so harsh in my responses and to agree to disagree. looking foward to reading future posts, keep up the good work.

11:12 AM  
Anonymous Rodney King said...

Cant we all just get along.

2:01 PM  
Anonymous VW said...

According to both R' Lazer Brody, and Sultan Knish, the cause for the huge Category 5 hurricane that is bearing down on New Orleans is... the disengagement.

I don't believe LB said it the way you said he did. You said "the cause," LB said "we must constantly search" and "My heart tells me that there's a link."

5:10 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

Orthomom - your answer was best. When your child is older, perhaps he/she should read Aryeh Kaplan's book "If We Were God" (or is it you? I? I forget). It addresses this type of issue perfectly.
As for all the comments back and forth... It is true, as pointed out above, that the Gemora says everything is because of Am Yisroel. By the same token, as also said, we have no clue what that means and how to relate that to current events. We can guess; we can assume; we can even say what we think: But to say it is [implied definitively] because of this is just stupid. The Chofetz Chaim was a very special person in a different time, and made a statement. We do not know if he was right or wrong, and as someone said earlier he most likely was basing it on certain ideals, not his own whim of determining what God's calculations are. For us to do so based on our own politics is stupid and self-serving.
And, as Anon above said, trying to determine why certain things happen to us is primarily useful as a self-growth tool. Hurting our finger and then thinking, "Maybe it's because I flicked that guy off for no reason" may be completely wrong - but it is useful as a mussar tool.
Finally, two things that really bother me. Hashem does not need to be dashed Has-em. That's moronic. Hashem is a name we use instead of God's name, and has no spiritual value whatsoever. From what I have learned (which if someone has learned differently I would be interested in hearing - I could be wrong) God, too, does not need to be dashed usually, as long as you are referring to Him and not just throwing it in (like Oh my G-d). But when saying something like God is great, such editing is unneccesary. The issur of not taking God's name in vain means in vain, not ever.
Finally, it is interesting to note that some people seem to feel that it is fine to make blanket statements in one direction, but are upset when others make simple, polite, but different statements in the opposite direction - calling out the flaws of the former while doing so. To point out the flaws in the frum world [when done properly] is something that should be commended, not put down as "Jew-bashing". It is the ideal that many have to cover up our problems which eventually always come back to haunt our communities when the problems are not properly dealt with. If one looks back at the gedolim from previous generations, many of the greatest did a tremendous job of exposing and ridding the Jewish population of terrible internal problems; and often fought against other Jews to do so. Which ones do we remember now? The ones who fixed it, or the ones who tried to cover it up?
Keep up the excellent work, OrthoMom.

5:16 PM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

Your original answer was the right, sensible thing to say.

11:26 AM  
Blogger muse said...

Following carefully what happened, the major damage was secondary, after the dams broke down. More: http://shilohmusings.blogspot.com/2005/09/gush-katif-and-new-orleans-connection.html

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