Thursday, November 14, 2013

Message from the Rosh HaYeshiva

I am sure that you, as I, are deeply concerned with the typhoon in the Philippines that wreaked such terrible death and destruction earlier this week.  Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of those who have died, and to the survivors who are struggling to persevere in the midst of panic, chaos and deprivation.  Typhoons and other natural disasters such as these are unavoidable; the degree of death and destruction that they cause is not. Poverty, underdevelopment, population crowding, poor housing, and poor and inefficient government are the real culprits for these terrible death tolls (see the article in the Washington Post, here).  

At times such as these, it is important to remember the teaching of Rav Soloveitchik regarding Judaism's lack of focus on questions of theodicy.  The reason, says the Rav, that we do not spend too much time trying to answer the question of "How could God let such suffering happen?" is because to answer that question is to, in one way or another, come to peace with the suffering.  And it is our mandate to not be at peace with the suffering.  The Torah response to suffering is to do everything we can to alleviate it in the present and to prevent it in the future.

Let us, each one in his or her own way, respond to this tragedy not just with our prayers and thoughts, but with actions.  Actions that do something to help alleviate, even in a small way, some of the immediate suffering, and actions that can do something on a global and systemic level that can help minimize such tragedies in the future. 

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