In the wake of a historic storm which pummeled the Northeastern Seaboard this week, wreaking havoc for millions of people, some are wondering whether we can draw parallels of this disaster to the destruction by fire of Sodom and Gomorrah which, eerily, we read about in this week’s Torah portion.
But can we even compare the two? Can we say, as some religious fundamentalists argue, that natural disasters (interestingly called “acts of God” by insurance companies) are a punishment for our sins? (Interestingly, when it come to saving money God is suddenly invoked and turned into a scapegoat…)
On the other hand, divine providence clearly indicates that we must learn lessons from every event, especially calamities (as Maimonides writes).
What lessons can we learn from Hurricane Sandy?
A Torah class at the height of the storm last Monday night which was not cancelled due to the teacher’s surprising text message; the various times that “wind” is mentioned in the Torah (in the narrative of creation, in the story of Adam and the story of Jonah) – all teach us personal lessons carried to us by the ferocious winds of Hurricane Sandy.