“The floods have risen, Oh Lord, the floods have lifted up their clamor; the floods lift up their roaring. Above the sounds of many waters, the mighty breakers of the sea, the Lord is mighty on high. Your statutes are indeed enduring; In Your house holiness is becoming, Adonai, for all time.” — Psalm 93:3-5
As I wrote these lines, Texas and Louisiana have been devastated by the effects of Hurricane Harvey, and Hurricane Irma was poised to strike Florida after bringing great destruction in the Caribbean. Not far behind, we learn about Hurricane Jose gathering strength and heading north.
We often hear that storms, earthquakes and other disasters are called “acts of God.” Yet, theologians disagree as to whether those events are directly sent by God or caused by the forces of nature.
The psalm above seems to suggest that God does not cause the storm, but rather is above it, above the sounds of many waters, mighty on high. And what does God do according to the text? God presents us the Divine Law and the principles of Holiness.
The Torah, the Divine Law, teaches us that when people are in need we must help them. At this time of great need, we must open our hearts, our homes and our wallets to help the victims of these great tragedies, our brothers and sisters.
As we were helped by others when we were affected by Superstorm Sandy, we must now do the same towards the victims of Harvey, Irma and Jose.
We can be the arm of God, affirming Holiness in our land by upholding this moral teaching. May we lift our souls above the waters and raise to meet the responsibility that lies in front of us. May the coming Jewish New Year bring blessings, inspiration and healing to all.
Le Shana Tova Tikatevu — May we all be inscribed for a year of blessings!
Rabbi Claudio Kupchik
Kupchik is the spiritual leader of Temple Beth El of Cedarhurst.