Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Irene Reasons Given

After my list of earthquake reasons given, here are the reasons given for Hurricane Irene (that I noticed):
  • Israel Rising, R' Lazer Brody, and Tomer Devorah connect it to Jonathan Pollard's imprisonment
  • R' Shalom Dov Wolpe says it's punishment to the US for its pressure to accept a terror state in the inheritance of our forefathers
  • Update: Rebbetzin Jungreis says "this might be a warning from the Almighty to stop worshiping the “Golden Calf” and re-examine our lives"
  • R' Yehuda Levin - Kedarko Bakodesh - explains why it wasn't as bad as thought
  • Michelle Bachmann says it's Hashem's way of telling politicians to stop spending  (oops! sorry! I thought she was Jewish :-)  )

Update: Rav Shteinman Shlit"a says it's to awaken and inspire us before the Yom Hadin that's coming up


At Wed Aug 31, 02:08:00 PM 2011, Blogger joshwaxman said...

here is another reason:

At Wed Aug 31, 02:47:00 PM 2011, Blogger yaak said...

I was referring to the underlying reasons - the layer deeper than the one you linked to, although your link is also a reason, albeit more superficially.

At Wed Aug 31, 03:22:00 PM 2011, Anonymous Bob Miller said...

Who says we can understand the true reason for every event? Whatever that might be in this case, our teshuvah will certainly help the situation.

At Wed Aug 31, 03:42:00 PM 2011, Blogger joshwaxman said...

given that al derech hateva, this is hurricane season -- Every year, the world experiences hurricane season. During this period, hundreds of storm systems spiral out from the tropical regions surrounding the equa­tor, and between 40 and 50 of these storms intensify to hurricane levels. In the Northern Hemisphere, the season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30,

and given that Irene is one of a series of such tropical storms which hits the Northern hemisphere;

and given that the only reason people are paying more attention to events such as this is that we are more globally aware due to the Internet, couples with a general trend to find mystical reasons for which klal Yisrael is at fault,

then, perhaps no, there is not much more than the superficial reason.

There might be a part of the Divine Plan for every rainfall as well. Or, the Divine Plan might not have anything to do with sechar veOnesh for specific faults. And certainly, none of these folks have any clue as to the underlying reason. It is a joke to pretend otherwise.

Looking at your list of people and reasons, I must say it is rather unimpressive and silly.

At Wed Aug 31, 03:50:00 PM 2011, Blogger yaak said...

Rambam Hil. Ta'aniyot 1:2-3:

ב ודבר זה, דרך מדרכי התשובה הוא: שבזמן שתבוא צרה ויזעקו לה ויריעו, יידעו הכול שבגלל מעשיהם הרעים הרע להן--ככתוב "עוונותיכם, הטו אלה" (ירמיהו ה,כה) לכם, וזה הוא שיגרום להם להסיר הצרה מעליהם.

ג אבל אם לא יזעקו, ולא יריעו, אלא יאמרו דבר זה ממנהג העולם אירע לנו, וצרה זו נקרוא נקרית--הרי זו דרך אכזרייות, וגורמת להם להידבק במעשיהם הרעים, ותוסיף הצרה וצרות אחרות: הוא שכתוב בתורה, "והלכתם עימי, בקרי. והלכתי עימכם, בחמת קרי" (ויקרא כו,כז-כח), כלומר כשאביא עליכם צרה, כדי שתשובו--אם תאמרו שהוא קרי, אוסיף עליכם חמת אותו קרי.

At Wed Aug 31, 03:51:00 PM 2011, Blogger yaak said...

That said, I would like to see what Gedolim say, as I'd value those opinions more.

At Wed Aug 31, 04:10:00 PM 2011, Blogger joshwaxman said...

Be that as it may. I don't really feel like arguing the implications of wording of the Rambam (though I think one could -- the Rambam does subscribe to an idea of hashgacha klalis, and that some ideas are good to foster even if not entirely true), rather than reality. It IS minhag haOlam.

The kohen gadol prayed every year on Yom Kippur that the homes of the residents of the Sharon should not be their graves. The reason is that earthquakes were naturally quite prevalent there, and they had to (IIRC) rebuild their homes every seven years.

Show me that the gemara ever **thought** that this derech hateva was due to sins of the residents of the Sharon area. Or that the people of Sharon regularly fasted, blew trumpets, and examined their maasim because of the frequent, though natural, earthquakes.

What we have instead is a joke. Rabbi Levin had his explanation for why Irene was not so bad -- because of protests against gay marriage. Had it been bad, he would have said it was because of gay marriage. He has an answer validating his preconceived notions either way. Yeah, it is because they didn't release Pollard, even though they have not for years.

The bachur in Japan was acquitted, and coincidentally, in Japan, which has about 86 active volcanoes, had a volcanic eruption. Some interpreted this as Hashem's celebratory fireworks. Had he been convicted, it would have been taken as a sign of Divine displeasure.

At Wed Aug 31, 04:15:00 PM 2011, Blogger joshwaxman said...

Also, neither the earthquake or the relatively mild tropical storm Irene really reach the level of disaster that was predicted and (subconsciously and sometimes expressly) hoped for by these wannabe prophets and pundits.

Hooray, Edom is finally getting what is coming to it! Hooray, New York is getting what is coming to it because they disagree with me!

At Wed Aug 31, 04:39:00 PM 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Josh, how exatly would you like HaShem to wake us up? I would perhaps think twice before so boldly contradicting the Rambam . . . There is an Inyan not to make a fool of yourself publicly. It's is not so much about our opinions, but rather about Torah.

At Wed Aug 31, 04:43:00 PM 2011, Blogger yaak said...

You never really answered up the Rambam according to your view - you just say that he holds of hashgaha kelalit. But the words of the Rambam are black and white - he considers calling it Minhag Ha'olam "cruel and causing people to cling to their evil ways". How clearer can you get?

Regarding this gemara you quote, where is this gemara? The gemara on Sota 44a (where I thought you may be referring to) just says that they need to rebuild it twice in seven years. Rashi just says "שאינו מתקיים". The Bartenura says, "מקום הוא ששמו שרון, ואין הקרקע שלו יפה ללבנים, ולא הוי דבר
של קיימא, שהיו צריכין לחדשה שני פעמים כל שבע שנים"
Which Peirush says earthquakes?

I tend to agree with you on your other points, BTW.

At Wed Aug 31, 04:44:00 PM 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a side note, Washington and New York have not had this type of hurricane for almost 200 years . . . Minhag Olam?

At Wed Aug 31, 04:46:00 PM 2011, Blogger joshwaxman said...

"Regarding this gemara you quote, where is this gemara"

iirc, it is a yerushalmi in yoma. but i'd have to double-check...

At Wed Aug 31, 05:06:00 PM 2011, Blogger yaak said...

Yes, thanks. 5:2.

Again, nothing about earthquakes there. Korban ha'edah talks about the rains destroying their houses or the fact that the soil is not good for bricks.

You must admit that there's a huge difference between a totally expected 3.5 year incident and a 50-plus-year (once-in-a-lifetime) incident.

At Wed Aug 31, 05:09:00 PM 2011, Blogger joshwaxman said...

in terms of the Rambam, if we must... here is ONE way of dealing with that Rambam:

(1) see what he writes about Chazal making things bigger than they are in order to positively influence people. in hilchot teshuva, perek 3:

וְיֵשׁ עֲבֵרוֹת קַלּוֹת מֵאֵלּוּ, וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים שֶׁהָרָגִיל בָּהֶן אֵין לוֹ חֵלֶק לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא, כְּדֵי לְהִתְרַחַק מֵהֶן וּלְהִזָּהֵר מֵהֶן.

indeed read the next paragraph, and then consider that **other topic** about bizuy talmid chacham.

(2) ודבר זה דרך מדרכי התשובה הוא means that this is of the paths of teshuva. it is a good attitude to take.

(3) he is talking about the community themselves taking stock of an impending disaster impacting themselves. this is not the same as taking every single disaster -- when in fact we now know via hurricane science that there are 40 per year in this timespan -- which happens in the world. one is a personal reaction, the other is a general attitude.

(3) אלא יאמרו דבר זה ממנהג העולם אירע לנו is not necessarily when it is indeed the minhag haOlam. this is the teretz that people are giving to themselves. halachically, a few people dying in a large city (as opposed to a small town) for a certain number of days is derech hateva, and they would NOT start blowing trumpets for plague. (i don't recall off the top of my head the precise parameters.) more than that, or in a smaller town, they would. there is an idea, even within this, of the effects of scale.

(4) and הרי זו דרך אכזרייות is the opposite of דרך מדרכי התשובה. one does not want to foster this sort of attitude. that does not mean that the conclusion may not be justified, in certain instances. and it does not mean that in other situations, when people are acting like absolute clowns in interpreting global events, that one not counter such silliness.

In terms of what Gedolim say, Rabbi Lazer Brody writes about his meeting with an 'Honorable Rabbi', one of Israeli's leading rabbis, and disagreeing with him over whether one should chastise the tzibbur in the wake of these calamities. I think that he is not only presumptuous, but he is wrong.

kol tuv,

At Wed Aug 31, 05:18:00 PM 2011, Blogger joshwaxman said...

the detail about the earthquakes specifically as the cause was from some of the commentators, not the gemara. yes, i knew that. i'm not sure what led to that conclusion, but i've seen this explanation popularly. (for instance, here.)

by once in 50 year incident, which do you mean? the mild earthquake, as opposed to the hurricane / tropical storm? (besides which this is not the only thing these self-appointed prophets interpret.) i was reading a year or so ago that Washington DC was due for an earthquake like this. Scientists have estimates of how often these events are likely to occur, based on derech hateva.

At Wed Aug 31, 05:35:00 PM 2011, Blogger yaak said...

Josh, you are ignoring the scare of what these events - both the earthquake and the hurricane - produced. The scare beforehand was tremendous, no matter what ended up happening, which was pretty bad. I quote Wikipedia:

"Hundred-year flood conditions in rivers of at least six US states, while the Christian Science Monitor described flooding in Greene County, New York as five-hundred-year-flood conditions.[165]"

The earthquake - no matter of the fact that it was due - was significant in terms of timing and in terms of location and in terms of intensity. All 3 put together - and you cannot say this was Minhag Haolam.

Your Teirutzim of your shita according to the Rambam leave much to be desired, I'm sorry to say.

At Wed Aug 31, 05:45:00 PM 2011, Blogger joshwaxman said...

In terms of the Rambam, I disagree. But as I said before, I don't really feel like turning this into a debate about the Rambam.

Yes, there **was** a bunch of media hype. It is in their best interest to "scare up" ratings. Plus they were prompted by the reaction of Bloomberg, who was facing criticism for under-reaction in the previous snowstorm. See here for a bit on this.

At Wed Aug 31, 05:49:00 PM 2011, Blogger joshwaxman said...

in terms of the earthquake, at least in New York, a lot of people i know were **amused**. i didn't even know it had happened. i thought my knee had hit my desk, causing my monitor to shake.

At Wed Aug 31, 06:20:00 PM 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scary that some think the Rambam cannot be wrong on anything, neither can he be questioned. Two attributes Hashem conferred on Moshe rabbienu and Moschiac exclusively !!!

At Wed Aug 31, 06:31:00 PM 2011, Blogger joshwaxman said...

Another one to add, by the way. Nir Ben Artzi's followers say that he predicted Irene.

At Wed Aug 31, 07:17:00 PM 2011, Blogger joshwaxman said...

here you go, for his 'prediction' and explanation:

At Wed Aug 31, 07:20:00 PM 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

if we believe that Hashem absolutely controls the world, then every happening is a lesson or wake up call. let it be in weather or anything else. nothing that happens or is warned by the sages, past or present is silly. i wonder how people who call this silly feel if they had been in the midst of the 2004 tsunammi or in the latest japanese e quake? when we 'escape' its not that we have not sinned, we just have a bit more time to correct our ways. If irene was not as bad as it was expected we thank Hashem for His Mercies, and not make light of it. i have read that when jews left germany there were some sceptics who made light of it, perhaps even calling the exodus silly. we know what happened to most of them. Rebbetzin J is a very highly thought of person who lived thro the holocaust, i have been told. thank G-d the world has stil l G-d fearing and sane people.

At Wed Aug 31, 07:28:00 PM 2011, Blogger joshwaxman said...

What is silly is Rabbi Levin thinking that he is a prophet, so as to "know" the meaning of these events.

And while the idea of every leaf being caused by Hashem's direction, for a purpose, is put forth by the Baal HaTanya, the Rambam writes of it as the belief of certain contemporary Muslim philosophers, as opposed to the belief of Chazal (and as opposed to his own, different, belief).

Which Sages warned about Hurricane Irene? We no longer have prophets. Just a bunch of silly people who think that they are prophets. (And who can find random gemaras to support their preconceived notions.)

At Wed Aug 31, 10:00:00 PM 2011, Anonymous Shiloh said...

Josh, all these lemonade salesman have proven one thing. If you locate enough lemons you will have an endless supply of lemonade.

At Wed Aug 31, 10:02:00 PM 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am surprised there are people who think the irene was 'mild'. 40 people dead mostly of the after effects, thousands of homes destroyed, livlihood gone etc. definitely the person who calls it mild was not affected, since he can write. its not that the sages can be wrong or right. its the believe that they were spiritually guided by Hashem either thro Prophet elijah or other means to write. Hence its not their works but directed by Hashem. as a human, no human being is perfect. the sages themselves attest to this. i dont think r lazer was wrong. there are many jews and gentiles who have read such warnings as quoted from the torah and holy writings and changed their life styles. dont let one soul even be lost because our own arrogance, well Hashem did warn us of people who would try to deviate us from the path of the Torah, so i cant say i am surprised.

At Wed Aug 31, 10:49:00 PM 2011, Blogger joshwaxman said...

"40 people dead mostly of the after effects"

As someone commented elsewhere, the equivalent of a bus crash. Compared with what they were expecting / predicting, it was indeed mild. Compared with Katrina, it was mild. Yes, it was a tropical storm. And these things happen. But they are not apocalyptic.

Hence its not their works but directed by Hashem
yes, the position that the words of Chazal, Rishonim (and later) were written with ruach hakodesh, and as such are infallible. i'm familiar with it. Do you know that the Gra thought that the Rambam was unduly influenced by Greek philosophy, and thus wrote incorrect things such as denying the existence of sheidim. How can we say this, if everything the Rambam wrote was written with ruach hakodesh?

well Hashem did warn us of people who would try to deviate us from the path of the Torah
Yes, there are a bunch of people, with presence on the Internet, who people treat as prophets, and who say some rather silly things with certainty. And often, those who question their veracity are dismissed as Amalek or as the Erev Rav.

Hashem also warned us of nevi'ei sheker. And there have been many people who thought their apocalyptic beliefs were true. IIRC, even followers of Shabtai Tzvi spoke of the Erev Rav to explain how great rabbis could oppose the obviously true mashiach.

At Thu Sep 01, 12:52:00 AM 2011, Anonymous Neshama said...

Who would be so foolish to deny the Hand of G-d
The Winds Are HIS Messengers:

Tehillim 104: "HE makes the winds His messengers, the flaming fire His attendants; He established the earth upon its foundations, that it falter not forever. The watery deep, as with a garment You covered it; upon the mountains, water souls stand. ... He peers toward the earth and it trembles, He touches the mountains and they smoke. ...Sinners will cease from the earth, and the wicked will be no more...."

Along with the wind comes the hurricanes, tornados and floods.

At Thu Sep 01, 05:16:00 AM 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe Hashem is recording your words, Josh and will bring Katia to fulfill all your requirements for an "apocalyptic" event.

It's clear that this was still a warning. A WARNING! Not yet judgment, but judgment is surely coming. G-d help you when it does.

It is the spirit of Amalek that denies Hashem's hidden providence. Take note.

At Thu Sep 01, 08:34:00 AM 2011, Blogger joshwaxman said...

"Maybe Hashem is recording your words, Josh and will bring Katia"
chas veShalom!

"It's clear that this was still a warning. A WARNING! Not yet judgment, but judgment is surely coming."
Yes, just like the hurricanes for the past thousands of years.

You are not a prophet.

"G-d help you when it does."
I thank you for your blessing, but suspect that this was intended as more of a threat.

"It is the spirit of Amalek that denies Hashem's hidden providence. Take note."
I am trying to counter the fools who are taking it to the opposite extreme. Though what is considered Hashem's direction, and its extent, is a machlokes Rishonim, and those Rishonim who were not absolute in this were not Amalek. Chazal in Kesubos said הכל בידי שמים חוץ מצינים פחים, but Chazal were not Amalek.

Further, as I said above, this might well be part of Hashem's Divine Plan, directing derech hateva. But that does not mean that it is **punishment** for evildoers, for sin X.

At Thu Sep 01, 10:52:00 AM 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a given. Just like all the Jews once lived in EY, they will once again live in EY. ALL of them. For some reason, some people think that they are going to get a gold engraved invitation in the mail and maybe a hefty check to cover all the expenses and perhaps even a pre-paid deed to a nice house. Well, it don't go like that. At some point, possibly very soon, the goyim are going to catch on to the idea that these disasters are all happening because of the Jews and they will remember Yonah and the ship and understand that to stop the ship from sinking, they are going to have to throw "Yonah" overboard. If you are very, very lucky, there will be a simple expulsion of the Jews from the US, but don't count on them letting you take anything but maybe one suitcase with you. That's your best case scenario. I don't want to even mention the alternatives.

Not a prophet, just a good student of history and the Tanakh.

At Thu Sep 01, 12:21:00 PM 2011, Blogger vincent said...

What about the kabbalistic ritual that was performed (maybe ritual isn't the good word)in order to soften up Irene? YY himself posted about that. That might have worked. The thing sucked in dry air from the land all the time. Weatherman said that was good news "that almost killed it" I saw it on CNN. By the time it hit Brooklyn it was out of steam. Later I saw another weatherman saying that they do not really know why the storm got weaker. "still lots to learn" So also the rationalistic scientific world is left wondering.
All this can't be proven. The truth is as the Rambam says somewhere in the middle. Although personaly I am all for the supernatural/superrational I do think quite humbly that Josh has a point. Also as a counterweight josh seves a purpose.

At Thu Sep 01, 12:36:00 PM 2011, Blogger yaak said...

Yes, Vincent. Josh is welcome to comment on this blog because he is the counterweight and keeps us honest. He is the direction A extreme to prevent us from going too far toward the direction B extreme. He keeps us on the Shevil Hazahav. Yes, Josh serves a purpose.

Even when he's wrong ;-)

At Thu Sep 01, 03:03:00 PM 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if Josh accepts that there now is any type of Divine communication through current events.

At Thu Sep 01, 03:12:00 PM 2011, Blogger Devorah said...

Anonymous said: For some reason, some people think that they are going to get a gold engraved invitation in the mail and maybe a hefty check to cover all the expenses and perhaps even a pre-paid deed to a nice house.

Actually Anonymous that's pretty much how it will come about once Moshiach is in town and revealed.
I don't know why it is so difficult for some israelis to understand.... that for some Jews.... it is an impossibility for them to be in Israel, and Hashem has caused it to be that way for a reason.

Josh, I really think Irene was a warning, and not something to make light of. I also think you may have to eat some of your words when the really dangerous hurricane hits.... Irene was just a test-run, the main show will follow soon enough. Not that I wish it on anyone, but it's definitely on the cards. Do you really believe that the earthquake that cracked the Washington Monument (and shook your computer) was not the Hand of G-d? Was the cracking of the Washington Monument and the falling down of the Cathedral Towers just a random act of nature?

The only people making lemonade here are actually Shiloh and Josh.

At Thu Sep 01, 05:23:00 PM 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Josh on one thing. There are no prophets on the internet (which is an unregulated source of tuma..but it has the potential to spread emes..once the tuma is under control).
But..we must learn from current events (national and personal). Only a person connected with Kedusha can really help us learn those lessons..and we will NOT find that person in any blog site. The blog author can help point us to significant events and commentary but with disclaimer that nobody knows WHY events occur..but nevertheless we can learn lessons even if it is not the REAL hidden lesson that the Creator knows

At Thu Sep 01, 05:33:00 PM 2011, Blogger yaak said...


I agree that I have no prophecy and don't claim to so you should take whatever I write with a grain of salt. As I said, I'd much rather hear reasons from gedolim, who are connected to Kedusha, as you said.

There doesn't always have to only be one REAL lesson. There could also be multiple REAL lessons that were meant to be taught to different groups of people. Everyone can come away with it with a different lesson to learn.

At Thu Sep 01, 05:45:00 PM 2011, Blogger yaak said...

Right after I wrote this, I noticed the Matzav article that I just blogged.

At Thu Sep 01, 06:23:00 PM 2011, Anonymous Daniel said...

Is it possible for ANYTHING to be a mere coincidence or a complete random occurrence?

At Fri Sep 02, 04:48:00 AM 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Devorah: Where does this idea come from? I know of no source for it and history certainly does not bear it out.

At Fri Sep 02, 10:41:00 AM 2011, Anonymous Shiloh said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Sat Sep 03, 11:23:00 AM 2011, Blogger Devorah said...

Anonymous: According to Chabad chassidus (and others), when Moshiach is here, the entire world will be Israel, and Israel itself will be Jerusalem. (The world will be Israel because everyone will see the truth, there will be a new world order - not the george soros kind though.)

There is also another teaching that the Jews will all fly to Jerusalem ""on the wings of eagles"" - which you may want to interpret as making aliyah and getting on a plane, but some people interpret as a miraculous event where all the [remaining] Jews will be transported to Israel - something like first class all the way, no tickets necessary, I have no idea..... we'll just have to wait and see. The Lubavitcher Rebbe also said that "no Jew will be left behind".

Chabad shluchim are everywhere in the world - wherever you find Coca Cola you'll find Chabad - and the shluchim will be the last ones to leave their respective countries. They are the shepherds gathering up their flock. Their mission is to bring back every Jew to the Torah and they will not leave anyone behind. So telling Chabad shluchim and their followers to come to Israel is pointless, it won't happen. (although I am not a ""lubavitcher"" this is what I was taught, and I do follow the Rebbe's teachings).

Of course anyone can and should make aliyah if they are able, I'm just explaining the Lubavitch teachings here.

And there is also the reason the Jews have a job to do in that the sparks in all countries of the world have to be elevated, and as long as Jews are living in their various places, these parts of the world have yet to be completely elevated, and when that has occurred, it will be time for Moshiach. This is called ""birurim".

Ever since G-d told our father Avraham, `Go from your land' and it is then written `Avram kept travelling southward,' we have the beginning of the mystery of Birurim, the refinement of each element of the world through our service to G-d. By decree of Divine Providence Man goes about his travels to the place where the elements that he must purify await
their redemption. These elements are actually divine particles that have fallen from a lofty source, into the physical. Before the object is refined, it has no Divine context, therefore the G-dliness that is in it is considered to be in exile. Through
utilizing them in one way or another for a G-dly purpose, these Divine Particles are redeemed.

Tzadikim, who have vision, see where their Birurim await them and go there deliberately. As for ordinary folk, the Cause of All Causes and the Prime Mover brings about various reasons and circumstances that bring these people to that place where lies their obligation to perform the Avoda of Birurim.

So! There is not merely a general purpose of refining the world, rather, each individual has his or her specific PART to elevate!

This is based on their unique characteristic and circumstance.

Based on R. Sholom Ber of Lubavitch
Copyright © 1995 Yisrael Rice Yisrael Rice

At Sun Sep 04, 02:01:00 AM 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Devorah: And now we know why Rav Eliyahu, the Vilna Gaon, the Mashiach ben Yosef of his generation, went to war against chassidut.

At Sun Sep 04, 10:29:00 AM 2011, Anonymous Shiloh said...

Oooh Yaak, you don't like it when the hypocrites are exposed now.


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