Wild weather – tropical storms, hurricanes, tornados, fire-storms, blizzards, floods are sadly all too common around the world. We here in the USA were focused on Hurricane (now tropical storm) Dennis for the past few days (and those who are and will get flooding rains from the storm will continue to be focused on it).
Such weather can prompt questions of “why does G-d do this to us” or “why to those on the gulf coast again, so soon after Ivan” or “why do we have such violent weather?” Clearly there is no definitive answer. Many things seem to factor in – how we treat the planet (weather cycles have a GREAT deal to do with what we put into the atmosphere, ground water and etc [remember the rain cycle from elementary school?]), the long-term time schedule of our planet (human time, earth time and Divine time are clearly not the same), and G-d G-dself.
We find many stories in biblical and rabbinic literature related to weather – the flood at the time of Noah, the prayers for rain by Akiva during drought (which are directly connected to the format of some High Holy Day prayers) and other stories. In both the story of Noah and Akiva (let me know if you want more details of either), humans interact with the planet and with G-d and there are consequences. Just as G-d long ago promised not to flood the entire earth all at once, we humans have our own end of the promise – to not be absorbed in blood, warfare and base human instincts and to take care of the earth.
Can we control the weather, of course not. Do our actions contribute? I belive that both science and Judaism say yes.
May all of those affected by violent weather find strength, courage and hope in a difficult time.
May each of us learn to take responsibility for the world’s physical (and spiritual) health.