By Rav Shmuel Brazil
There is a story told of the Baal Shem Tov when he was once crossing a frozen river that he noticed that the goyim were carving out of the ice crosses. It was then that he remarked that if a Yid serves Hashem with coldness and void of passion, it is very possible that he might end up serving chas veshalom avodah zara.
Fulfilling mitzvos by rote and habit is not desired by Hashem. Amalek is known for his asher karcha baderech that he cooled the Yidden off from their service of Hashem. Hashem appeared to Moshe with a burning bush to demonstrate that for geulah one must serve Hashem with passion and desire and not with just waiting to free oneself from obligations. The Kobrineer would interpret the passuk eesh aviv veemo teerahoo in a mussardik fashion using the Yiddish language. A man must fear his father and mother. Yet in Yiddish father is fawter similar to the word patur [to be free] in lashon hakodesh, and mother is mutter [the lashon hakodesh equivalent of permitted]. The Torah warns concerning either attitude “teeraoo” be afraid. He meant to say that when one finds himself always looking for the heter, the muttar, the easy way out, then his spirituality is at high risk. As the passuk in this week’s parsha says Vechai bahem that one must fulfill his mitzvos with life and vitality and not in some robotic methodology [Chidushei Harim]. Heat creates combustion and mobility in contrast to freezing cold that causes cessation of movement. Bais Yaakov aish ubais Yosef Lehavah ubais Eisav lekash. If the Yid has the fire he can destroy and consume the Eisav who is compared to straw.
Last week the entire world realized with a novelty how “natural” disasters can cripple millions upon millions of people who are thousands of miles away from the devastating event. Until now all these recent ongoing earthquakes, mud slides, floods etc. affected other nations. However, the Yid knows or at least is supposed to know, that they were wake up calls for him and not for them. Like the tzaraas in last week’s parsha Hashem first sends a spiritual arousal to man via the negah to his periphery, his house. If he immediately gets the message gevaltig. If he doesn’t then Hashem sends the same message a little closer to home on his clothing. If he gets it then, Baruch Hashem. If he still doesn’t get the explanation then Hashem unfortunately communicates directly to he individual so he fully understands that it is time for him to change his behavior and lifestyle.
Well this volcano in Iceland [note clearly the name] effected indirectly hundreds of Yidden everywhere paralyzing and immobilizing them from reaching their planned destinations. They were businessmen, tourists, yeshiva bachurim, Roshei Yeshivas, and Rebbes – the entire spectrum of the heimeshe olam. With this calamity Hashem is putting on the “heat” touching the mainstream but yet still only contacting their outer clothing.
Here we have a volcano that no foreigner aside from an Icelander can pronounce its name. Even if they attempt to do so, it still remains a tongue twister because it is in Icelandik. The message being sent is that we have become desensitized to the fact that our dibbur and speech have become distorted and deteriorated. Many of us tirelessly engage in “cold” blood slander, insult, and defamation of character. Just read the sickening comments and posts on any of these so called “religious” sites and blogs that instantly send their “tzaraas” to thousands of hungry listeners. Hashem wants everyone to start realizing and experiencing the effect of one’s lashan harah. Hashem therefore is sending tzaraas ash instantly blogged throughout the hemisphere leaving its impression that will not be easily eradicated just like the comments on this sites. Is it a coincidence that this volcano began erupting on parshas sazriah and metzorah? I highly doubt it.
The Torah wrote a double parsha warning Klall Yisrael about this avairah. Is it also a coincidence that there is another parsha in Iceland, another volcano bigger than this one that has potential to blow as well chas veshalom? As Science Fair noted that the Eyjafjallajokull volcano isn’t necessarily the main problem. It’s Katla, Iceland’s noisier neighbor, that’s the concern. If lava flowing from Eyjafjallajokull melts the glaciers that hold down the top of Katla, then Katla could blow its top, pumping gigantic amounts of ash into the atmosphere. Double parsha double volcano.
Lashon Harah is worse than shefichas damim for it parallels avodah zara and immorality as well. Does one think that it is also a mere coincidence that this second volcano means murder in Aramaic?
Science Fair ends with the statement “The potential eruption of Iceland’s volcano Katla could send the world, including the USA, into an extended deep freeze.” A deep freeze – asher karcha baderech. USA? Is that some kind of overstatement? I would just like to quote a fact that I found to be very frightening in the way that the last few years in the USA mirrored that of Iceland.
In recent years, Iceland has been one of the wealthiest and most developed nations in the world. In 2007, it was ranked as the most developed country in the world by the United Nations’ Human Development Index, and the fourth most productive country per capita. In 2008, the nation’s banking system systematically failed, causing significant economic contraction and political unrest.
Lashon hara knows no boundaries or country lines once it is unleashed. It seems to have a life of its own.
Hashem is sending a clear message that we must take instant heed of. Many of us have become so dulled and apathetic due to infiltrating galus and culture inside and outside of our homes that we are living a “glacier” life. It is through these natural disasters that Hashem believes that we will awaken from our deep freeze before He has to send us one chas veshalom. He is arousing us that the “lava” the fire that lies deep in the “laiv” and heart of the Yid must begin melting away our desensitization of how we speak to and of our fellow Yid so that we become “as one person with one heart” and bring the geula to its completion.