Reflecting Upon Hurricane Sandy


rav-moshe-meir-weissBy Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss

As of November 4, 2012, the date that I’m writing this, CNN reported that the estimated damage from Hurricane Sandy will be upwards of $50 billion.  Seven and one-half million families lost power.  The highest wave reported was over 39 feet high.  The highest wind gusts clocked in at Eatons Neck, New York, were 94 mph, and in Montclair, New Jersey, at 88 mph.  The Battery, the southern tip of Manhattan, had a storm surge of over nine feet.  Certain loss of life in America alone is so far eighty people, a number that is sadly sure to rise when we gain access to swamped regions.  And while these are raw numbers, the misery of Hurricane Sandy can’t be measured by numbers alone, and certainly not expressed with words.  Entire hospitals were evacuated, including NICUs and ICUs, whole neighborhoods were swept away or burnt down, family businesses were wiped out in a matter of hours, and the list of human suffering goes on and on.

The thinking Torah Jew asks, “Meh osah Hashem lonu – What has Hashem done to us?”  What lessons do we need to learn from this natural disaster?  The atheist will blame it on global warming.  But, we know better.  Hashem is sending us some stiff messages.  Rav Steinman, Shlit”a, the venerable Gaon in Eretz Yisroel, was asked about the reason a powerful storm hit the Eastern coast of the United States, and he answered, interestingly enough, that it was because of shmiras Shabbos, keeping and guarding Shabbos.  When pressed further, he pinpointed hotzaah, the prohibition of transferring from one domain to another and carrying on Shabbos.  While I can only guess, I surmise that Rav Steinman was prompted to make this suggestion since Shabbos is our way of commemorating the perfection of G-d’s creation and how Hashem saw that everything was good.  When people are neglectful of the strictures of Shabbos, Hashem rescinds the normal order of creation.  Perhaps he zoomed in on hotzaah since fierce winds move things from place to place.

How aware are we about the prohibition of carrying on Shabbos?  Do our children who grow up all their lives with an eruv have an awareness of the severe crime of carrying on Shabbos in a place where there is no evuv?  The Friday after the storm, how many of us made sure, with all the toppled trees and downed power lines, that our eruv was up and operational?

I would like to humbly suggest another possible message.  Hashem placed certain rules of nature in place to keep humanity safe.  Thus, the posuk testifies, “Toleh eretz al blima – The world is suspended upon nothingness.”  Thus, when looking in a telescope, we see the huge earth hanging in the air yet it does not hurtle randomly through the universe.  The sun, perfectly positioned 93 million miles away, does not meander closer which would barbeque humanity nor does it frolic further away which would instantly created an Ice Age.  We testify to this immutable law of nature when we say in Kiddush Levana, “Chok u’zman nosan lahem shelo yishanu es tafkidom – Positioning and timing was granted to them that they not vary from their route.”  In a similar vein, Hashem assured us about the sands of the beach and the shoreline in general.  “Gvul samta bal yavorun bal yeshuvun l’chasos haaretz – A boundary was given )at the shore) that should not be passed, lest the seas sweep and cover the earth.”

Why did Hashem lift these boundaries and allow Sandy to cover Seagate, Belle Harbor, Lower Manhattan, and countless other neighborhoods?  I believe it’s because humanity is breaking the normal boundaries of mankind.  In our city, same sex marriages have become the norm, something that the Medrash tells us happened at the time of the great flood when Hashem then also removed all boundaries.  Closer to home, we have removed many sacred boundaries.  People talk to rabbonim and roshei yeshiva in a manner that in previous generations people would have shuddered to even contemplate.  Children are not inhibited from speaking with insolence toward their parents and spouses speak with utter lack of respect and deference to one another.  The removal of the boundary of the sandy seawall should act as a wakeup call to see how we respect the time honored expected boundaries of human interaction.

There’s another thing that deserves much thought.  I think it’s obvious that Hashem is not pleased with people’s obsession with technology.  People keep their blackberry’s’ on their shtenders while davening.  They are busy texting during the daf.  They don’t linger by the family supper table but dart to computer and iTablets.  So, Hashem pulled the plug on technology and, wouldn’t you know it, families started talking again.  People lingered at more shiurim.  Husbands helped their wives clean the home.  This gives us all something to think about.  Rav Eliezer Ginsburg, Shlit”a, mentioned that, l’havdil, in the mosque, there are cubbies for people to leave their shoes and their cell phones before they come in to pray.  Sadly this is something that we can learn from too.

Here’s another thought.  Torah is not like any other branch of wisdom.  If you want to be an accountant, it helps to be good at numbers and then you hit the books to learn the rules and regulations.  Presto, you’re a CPA.  With more application and a different set of books, you can pass the bar and become a lawyer or go to medical school and become a doctor.  Torah doesn’t work that way.  In Pirkei Avos we are taught that there are forty-eight tools one needs to acquire to become a talmud chocham.  One of the forty-eight is “Nosei b’ol im chaveiro, which means having empathy.  Feeling another’s pain and suffering.  Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath is a good litmus test to see whether we have empathy.  Did we feel for the pregnant women who were evacuated in the middle of labor from NYU, Bellevue and Coney Island Hospitals?  Or the ICU patients?  While we sat at the Shabbos table after the hurricane, did we hurt for those people who would never again sit by the Shabbos table they were accustomed to all of their lives because their homes were washed away?  What about the elderly?  Did we contemplate their difficulty with change in their golden years, having to face not only the loss of their homes but their entire neighborhoods, not to mention the hundreds of nursing home patients who had to be evacuated, some in the midst of 60 mph winds?

It is a good reality check to notice whether we stopped to daven for these people.  If we thought, how can we help all the children that lost all of their toys?  Or, the dating girls who lost all of their dresses?  And, the list goes on.  Of course, empathy needs to be sharpened because it is the empathetic person who goes to the doctor with his wife when she is worried, and the wife who is there to give encouragement  when her husband must hit the pavement to look for a job.

May it be the will of Hashem that all those who have suffered loss, may He replenish them with much good, may we all be healthy and safe, and may Hashem bless us with long life and everything wonderful.

{ Newscenter}


  1. BS”D
    Discussion with Moishe’la (with his family) part 3
    A handicapped child
    Chof Cheshvan 5773 (Nov 4’12)

    Jews all over the world are in big danger

    I just want to say that the world is falling apart and the United Stated of America no longer exists. I’m not a prophet and I can’t say for sure, but I believe whole heartedly, that Barak Obama will be president once again. And I also believe that American Jewry is in big danger. I also believe that European Jewry is in big danger, and probably Jews all over the world are in big danger. But even though we went through the Nazis and suffered so much; so many Yidden were killed in very gruesome and sadistic ways, so many homes abandoned, so many lives destroyed, so many people suffering just because they were Jews.

    Soon the Jews will be targeted again, and this time it will be even worse, because it will be the Jews all over the world and there will be no place to run. And when every Yid (that can get there) has arrived in Eretz Yisroel, at that point or near that point all the nations of the world will come against Eretz Yisroel. And that’s when Hashem will show His might. He will show that He is the Ribbono Shel Olam, the Creator and the Ruler of the world forever. Until then I beg my fellow Jews, I beg you come close to HaKodosh Boruch Hu. It’s the only way to save yourself. Do it with all your heart and soul and try, try very hard to leave the countries that you have been guests in for two thousand years and come back to your home, come back to Eretz Yisroel the land that Hashem gave to Avrohom Avenu and to his descendants.

    The time is coming very soon! If you don’t make a move soon then it will be infinitely harder afterwards. True, Hashem will save all true Jews but it will be so much harder. The Yid that now picks himself up when he still has some gashmius left, and rejects it, and comes to Eretz Yisroel, has an enormous Zechus and Hashem will never abandon him. If he cries out to Hashem and puts himself in danger by coming to Eretz Yisroel, Hashem will never abandon him.

    This Hurricane Sandy was a great warning, but the warning is only beginning. Within the next week or two there will be very shocking things happening. Hopefully more Yidden will wake up. Hopefully we won’t have to wait too long for the Geula. I Daven every day and every night that our Yiddishe Folk will see the truth and will prepare themselves, really prepare themselves for the coming of Moshiach.

    I’m very sad. In this last storm Jewish lives where lost and also homes where lost. People are destitute. People have gotten a very big shock, and I feel bad for the Yidden who suffer, but they just aren’t listening! They don’t listen to Hashem. They are not being what they are supposed to be. Many have gone so far afield, that their Yiddishkeit is almost unrecognizable except for the fact that they still wear Tefillin put on Tzitzis Talisim and so on………

    Mother: I heard about long gas lines. Why aren’t they giving out the gasoline in the areas affected by the storm?
    Moishe’la: They want the suffering to be great. They want riots to begin. They want everyone to be unsettled. They want everyone to be miserable, and then they can take over.

    Father: How come the Rabbonim don’t tell the people to come to Eretz Yisroel?
    Moishe’la: I don’t know, the Rabbonim are interesting in America. Most of them are just as much in the Gashmius as anyone else. Don’t forget the Divrei Chaim z”l said clearly that at the end of time most of the Yidden and even the Rabbonim will be Erev Rav.

    I want to tell you that the tragedies have not ended. I want you to understand that America has become an ugly place. The United States has lost its beauty. It’s lost it’s freedom and it has become a dangerous place, especially for people who believe in Hashem. But not only are the Jews in danger but believers of all kinds that believe in G-D are in danger Christians, Muslims, Jews. But as in every society where Amalek and Edom rule, there is a special enjoyment and feeling of elation from persecuting Jews and this is soon going to be in the United states as well.

    The camps are ready. All that has to happen is Martial law, and from that moment the real suffering begins. And don’t think that if you are in Israel the long arm of the “New World Order” the American-style New World Order, won’t try to persecute the Jews in Israel. They will probably start with American Jews for all kinds of reasons.

    I want to explain that wherever we are in the world we are in danger, however I want to reiterate that the only place now for a Jew, is in Eretz Yisroel. Because here Hashem will protect all those who cry out to Him for help, and sacrifice to be Yidden. Those people who believe very much and trust HaKodosh Boruch Hu will come to Eretz Yisroel and they will get much credit for coming because it’s not easy. There are those who live here already, but don’t trust Hashem. If they start to trust Hashem, they will also be given special treatment from Shomayim. All those who believe and trust in Hashem, all those who cry out to Hashem for help, and live in Eretz Yisroel, will have special treatment.

    I also want to say that the Erev Rav which have taken control Kivyachol of our communities, of our cities, of the government of the Zionists, of the Knesset, those people even if they cry out to Hashem will not be helped. They are not really crying out to Hashem because they are not really believers in Hashem .The minute that things settle down, The Erev Rav will go back to their treachery so they are lost! But the true Jew whose Neshama was at Har Sinai will always be Hashem’s special son or daughter, always be closer to Hashem than any other people of the world.

  2. I read Rabbi Weiss’ heartfelt message and yes,as rachmanim bnei rachmanim, I do think that most of us far away did think of, pray for and hurt with our brethern who were affected by the storm. I’d just like to add another possible thought to the list of “Whys – Meh osah Hashem lonu”. It came in an e-mail and as someone who is privileged to live in Eretz Yisrael, I pass it on with humility, with love, and with hope.

    “Gd just passed over America – the modern day “Egypt” – the wealthy, powerful, contemporary Leader of the world. But this time He did not pass over Goshen – the home of the Jews – as He did in Egypt of Old. This time, He struck. Entire areas of frum, Jewish houses and institutions were destroyed. What will we do now? Rebuild in Goshen again? Don’t rebuild your houses in “Egypt”. Remember… 80 percent of the Jews in Egypt chose to remain. They never came out. Let us go home. Eretz Yisrael is waiting for us. Egypt was the first Golus. Perhaps America can be the last.”

  3. Maybe it is also because both political parties want a two state “solution” for Israel and want to force Israeli Jews to give up their homes and land. Hurricane Sandy came 21 years after the Perfect Storm which formed when President Bush cosponsored the Madrid Conference at which Bush broke from President Reagan’s more pro-Israel policies in the attempt to forge an Arab-Israeli “peace” plan that included recognizing a Palestinian “right” to biblically Jewish lands.

  4. The full story of Rav Shteinman’s answer is not included, according to what I heard.

    Rav Shteinman was asked why Hotzaha of all Melachos of Shabbos? He answered because the storm was a devistation of G’Vulim, boundries. The lines between ocean and land, wires and fences being torn away. Most communities with Eruvim are still without their Eruvim – a situation that is likely to persist for another few weeks.

    The last time the Eruv in our town came down – during Irene – I was walking to Shul and noticed a Frum Yid in his pajamas in the street looking down upon his New York Times. As I watched in amazment, he proceeded to lift one end of the paper and flip it, then again, then again.

    As I came upon him I asked him what he was doing, as the Eruv was down. He answered, “I’m doing Pochos Pachos MaArba Amos,” and he continued until the paper landed on his stoop, where he picked it up and brought it into his home.

    Enough said…

    I too wish upon all those who suffered losses that Hashem Y’Malei Chesronchem.

  5. Amen to his bracha at the end.

    Thank you for posting this.

    [Thank you for not posting the PAID messages by politicans looking to “gain” out of this sad tragedy]

  6. This is a beautiful letter to really think about!There will deffinitely be those critics who will say this letter is “offensive” there always are poeple who rather close their ears and hearts. It’s forsure easier to answer back than to REALLY DO SONETHING! Although I wasnt personally affected by Sandy, my heart throbs for those who were! And it may be hard for me to help out financially but money isn’t the limits. I can take upon myself something to become better!! WE ALL COULD! It’s teshuvah time. I was mekabel shabbos 5 minutes earlier this week and I hope to keep it going in the future. Let’s not let this tragic storm be for naught, chaval that we shouldn’t change in even ONE AREA! Thank you R’ WEISS, kol hakavod !!

  7. the real story here is that there is no gas in New York
    The governor promised 28 million gallons where are they ?!
    How come in linden New Jersey you can get gas ?! Something is going on in New York why is nobody covering it?!

  8. Comment #1- your letter was little scary to read! I dont know who you are and why i should believe you! But PLEASE dont call rabanim “Interesting!!!!” How dare you???? You really threw me off!!!

  9. How do I know if comment #1 was written by someone who really has “nevuah”, or is just writing something that anyone can make up or guess? I would really like to know if this is real?!
    If it is, it’s pretty scary.

  10. to #11 & everyone
    i would be scared of what holds in store for the future of klal yisroel.
    Sadly the main reason to be scared is because we are not changing our ways towards teshuva & are therefore CAUSING OURSELVES great tzaros R”L we don’t know how tragic the next event can be C”V

    may we all do teshuva ASAP so Hashem will erase the future gezeira of tzaros upon klal yisroel

  11. How do I know if comment #1 (Moishe’la)was written by someone who really has “nevuah”, or is just writing something that anyone can make up???

    well first of all we all thought that Romney will win, but Moishe’la (post # 1) predicted that Obama will win ” I’m not a prophet and I can’t say for sure, but I believe wholeheartedly, that Barak Obama will be president once again” this was posted prior to the election results.

    for more information you can go to and read up on it.

  12. Do you not realize that the week before the storm was Parshas Lech Lecha, with its message for ALL Jews to come Israel, NOW, while they still have the chance to do so, This was followed by the Parsha discussing the destruction of Sedom, just when the hurricane hit.
    One does not need prophecy to see the connection-just open eyes. Read Eim Habanim Semeicha by Rav Teichtel. He makes it very clear. Also, go to you tube and watch “Tisha B’Av, Eretz Yisrael, and the Geula, as well as “Lech Lecha-does that mean me?”
    But for those who still don’t see the connection, Hashem now gave Obama another 4 years to destroy America. Run, don’t walk, and come home, to the wonderful Land Hashem promised Avraham and gave us. I can tell you that so many of my fellow Jews living in Eretz Yisrael feel the same way as I do,

  13. BS”D
    Discussion with Moishela (with his family)
    A Handicapped child
    3 Av 5774 (July 29, ’14)

    “We Must Prepare Ourselves To Be Unblemished Sacrifices”

    Since the last time that I wrote, much has happened. The world has almost turned up-side-down. Besides the war that we are having here in Eretz Yisroel, many other wars have begun and the world has become a much more dangerous and frightening place. One of the reasons that it is so frightening, besides the fact that these wars are cruel, shooting, killing wars, with blood flowing freely, besides that fact, what frightens us the most is that much of what is happening today simply doesn’t work according to a logical mind, a normal logical mind. Pieces are missing from the puzzle that should be evident. We don’t know who the good guy is. We don’t know who the bad guy is. We don’t know from one minute to the other who is on whose side. Suddenly there are certain things that are uncovered that we had no inkling had ever been in existence, and they tell us in the highest places with the most knowledgeable of people so-to-speak that it has been there for the last ten, twenty, fifty years festering and growing and becoming monstrosities, and we scratch our heads and say how in the world did that happen. How did it become so bad? How come it came upon us in such a sudden way? How come no one knew, and if they knew, how come no one did anything?

    We trust the governments to make sure that all our medications are not dangerous to us. We trust the courts that they will give everybody a fair shake so-to-speak. We trust the doctors that they will give us the right diagnosis. We trust the economists that tell us that things are looking up financially, or they give us advice how to invest. We trust all the different aspects of the Egel Hazahav, but we don’t trust the Truth. The Truth is Hakodosh Boruch Hu, and we trust man more than the Truth with a capital T. I know that we are coming very close to Moshiach. I know that we’re soon going to throw off the bonds of this terrible Golus. I know that only those who recognize Truth, with a capital T will ever be able to live in a world of the Truth with a capital T, and therefore I want to explain to you that things look jumbled and not logical because it’s not the Truth. It’s not the way the world was created.

    What is happening today, it’s going against the Truth. Its degenerate, and its pulling us into a degenerate mode, and its taking over the whole world, and we have to resist. The only way to stop it is to recognize that something is very wrong here and we’re hanging on to the wrong lifesaver for dear life. We think we have a rubber tube to float on the water and be saved, but we don’t. It’s full of lead and it’s going to bring us down to the bottom of the sea, Chas Vesholom. What does Hashem want from us? How can we survive this terrible calamity, this evilness that has oozed out from every corner of the world that nobody realized existed in such a tremendous force? How can we survive all this? Who are we, only puny people without any strength. How can we survive this terrible, terrible flood of degeneracy? There is only one way. We have to prepare ourselves.

    We have to prepare ourselves now to greet Moshiach. We have to prepare ourselves to be perfect sacrifices, and yes I did say Korbanos Shleimos, and we have to be Shaleim, Shaleim or at least try very hard to be Shalem. If we don’t get to Shleimus, Hashem will make the Shleimus, but it will be so difficult and so hard, and cause us much pain, no less pain than an operation, only it will be a spiritual operation which can be much more painful than a physical operation. There’s no anesthetic for this kind of operation, and we’ll feel every single pain, so we must prepare ourselves to be Korbanos to be as pure as possible. Don’t get too frightened. I don’t mean that we’re all going to die Al Kiddush Hashem. I mean that Hashem wants us to live Al Kiddush Hashem, and He wants us to be as perfect as possible, and the way to become as perfect as possible is to trust Hashem completely. Trust everything He demands from us. Do not question one thing that He demands from us. We want to do His complete Ratzon. I’m not saying that we will be able to get to that high level, but we have to make a really, really good try for it. We have to really, really put our minds, hearts, and soul, and our bodies into this great endeavor, probably the greatest endeavor ever.

    Yitzchok Avinu was a perfect Korbon. He was a Korbon Shaleim. His father was ready to listen to Hakodosh Boruch Hu and sacrifice his only son. The only son that could continue and become the father of Am Yisroel, one of the fathers. Only Yitzchok could do that. He was willing to die because Hashem said so. That is the kind of Bitachon we have to have. In the end it was enough that Yitzchok allowed himself to be tied onto the Mizbayach so that he wouldn’t squirm when the knife came to his throat. He put his throat out so it would be easier for his father when he had to do the Shechting, and he was happy to do Hashem’s will, and Avraham Avinu didn’t hesitate once to Shecht his only son, because Hakodosh Boruch Hu wanted it, and he knew that everything that Hakodosh Boruch Hu does is for our good. He also knew that nothing that we have, nothing that we think we own, no child of ours is really ours. Nothing is ours. Everything is His, and we too are His, and that’s the way you achieve Shleimus.

    You have to be sure in every way that Hashem is Hakol Yachol and whatever He does is absolutely perfect for us, and will be the best thing for us no matter how much it makes us suffer, because our suffering is only an illusion. It’s from our twisted desires and we have to realize that this world is only a very short visit for us, and then we go to the next world. But now we won’t go to the next world. Im Yirtzeh Hashem, we’ll go straight to Olam Habah of Moshiach.

    So now my dear Yidden, be strong. It’s time to change. It’s time to take account of our lives, each part of our lives, and try to be much better because if we don’t do this we’re going to be in big trouble. I beg you, make an accounting. Balance your checkbook with Hashem. Find what you owe Him, and find what you think He owes you, and I‘m sure that we all will find that we are deeply, deeply in debt, and that we need to show Hashem how we love and trust Him, how we will do anything in the world that He asks us, even if it means our lives. That’s what we have to show Him. We are going to be called upon as Jews to be tested in the most difficult ways, and we must be close to Him. We must take out of ourselves all the superficial nonsense of this world of lies, of this world of Egel Hazahav, of this world of illusions and come to the truth. Its very frightening because all of your, what you call regular lives, is going to be totally, totally different. You’re going to have to give up things that have become out of disproportionately important to you, and you’re going to have to take from your heart all the petty nonsense that you so come to depend on to help you pass time in a superficial way. You are going to have to deal with the truth. It’s very frightening, and our lives will change. The great wealth that this so-called western world has known is going to vanish. It’s going to be gone. We are going to have to learn to live in a much more simple way, and that will help us become closer to Hashem. It is happening now already, and World War Three has begun already, and I think we can all see it, and it is going to spread. It’s going to become a great, great war, a great and frightening war, and I know that all true Jews will know that what I am saying now is true. Prepare yourselves my dear Jews, my dear Yidden. Hashem loves you and wants you back wants you back with Him. This is a lowly generation but the Jewish heart and soul is still here and on that Jewish heart and soul of every single Yid will be built Olam Habah of Moshiach.

    Q: Why don’t you sleep at night?
    A: I don’t sleep at night because I know that in the not so far future we’re really going to have to trust Hashem. We are going to realize that food and clothing and shelter will not be forthcoming so easily at all, and we will have to trust Hashem. When I say we I’m talking about the whole world. I’m talking about every single person in the world except those few who think that they can rule instead of Hashem, Chas Veshololm, but we will be the winners because in the end Hashem will banish them into nonexistence and we will get all the benefits. We will not starve to death and we will not be out in the cold if we trust in Hashem, if we trust the fact that He is Hakol Yachol.

    That’s why I cry, because I know it’s going to be very hard for many Yidden, and by the way do you realize how much of the world is going to be destroyed, Hashem Yishmor? It is said so clearly in the Nevuas. Do you realize what a shock that is? I don’t think there will be any CNN around to be able to photograph it, but what can I tell you? Just thinking about the shock of it is enough to make me cry, cry for Am Yisroel, cry for the whole world. The Reshaim are playing their sinister games of murder and bloodshed. They are such foolish people especially the Goyim the Jews are also being foolish because we are not coming close to the Truth, to Hakodosh Boruch Hu. We have made our whole lives superficial Yiddishkeit and all I can do is cry over it. We have split up into millions of factions instead of being one with Hashem, but Hashem will teach us. He loves us. He wants to save us, but we’re making it very hard on ourselves.

    Just remember that according to many great Torah sources most of the Jews of this generation, the generation just before the Geula Sheleima, will be Erev Rav. They can be Frum or secular but not true Jews and they will try to pull us away from the Truth.

    Yes my crying has to do with Am Yisroel. I’m so worried. It’s not so simple. We have to be strong and we have to be without blemish.