New York – A Perspective on the Impending Irene Storm

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    A sign warns of the voluntary evacuation that was set by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as the New Jersey Shore braces itself for Hurricane Irene, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011, Ortley Beach, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)New York – As the hurricane gets closer and closer to New York, many people are expressing worry and concern. Some are leaving. The Long Beach Jewish community is evacuating and those that live near the shoreline are particularly concerned.

    From a hashkafic point of view, many are asking, “What should we be doing?”

    The hurricane offers us many opportunities in our Avodas Hashem. Firstly, there is the Mitzvah of “Venishmartem meod b’nafshosaichem” – being careful in safety. Purchasing water bottles, flashlights, and tape for windows so that they not shatter are actually the fulfillment of a Torah imperative.

    Although there is a Mitzvah of being very careful and taking all steps to protect ourselves and ensure the safety of our family members and others – there is also a Mitzvah of expressing and developing our Bitachon – our faith in Hashem. “VeTzadik b’emunaso yichyeh” means that righteous people live and thrive through their faith, devotion and confidence in Hashem.

    Few people are aware that one fulfills a Torah Mitzvah by reciting verses of Bitachon – faith in G-d. The recitation of the first verse of Havdallah – “Hinei Kel Yeshuasi – evtach velo efchad.. this is the G-d of my salvation – I shall have faith and not fear” is a fulfillment of this Mitzvah. Merely repeating it with meaning and conviction creates a change within us, aside from fulfilling the Torah Mitzvah discussed before. It brings us to Dveikus Bashem.

    Let’s not forget that Hashem purposefully did not grant the matriarchs children – why? The Talmud tells us (Yevamos 64a) that Hashem is desirous of the prayers of the righteous. Certainly here too, Hashem is desirous of our prayers.

    Hashem wants our closeness to Him. We have just finished Tisha B’Av where we mourn the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash. What was the Bais HaMikdash? It was the Shechina within our midst – the bonding and closeness that we, Klal Yisroel have with Hashem. Dveikus is the essence of what defines us as a nation. The Zohar teaches that there is another Bais HaMikdahs that was NOT destroyed – it is the hashraas haShechina, the resting of the Divine Presence, that still exists within us.

    At times, however, we may get busy, we may place excessive value on things that are not what we are about as a nation. Hashem brings messages to us to bring us closer to Him. So instead of expressing fear and anxiety, let us use this as an opportunity to further express our bitachon – let’s add a little more punch to our Tefillos and allow the Dveikus Bashem to sprout.

    As far as which Tehillim might be appropriate? Tehillim Kuf Zayim might seem particularly germaine. The Alshich finds fault in his commentary to this koppitel with those who are aware of an impending storm and do not pray prior to it that it should be lessened.

    May HaKadosh Boruch Hu see us through this storm in safety, and emerge with an ever greater sense of closeness to Hashem. But let’s also tape the windows, buy water and check the flashlight batteries.

    The author can be reached at [email protected]


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