Huge sinkholes, wide enough to swallow trucks, have suddenly begun to appear in the plains of Karapinar, Turkey, a region that is essential as the “breadbasket” of the country.
Professor Fetullah Arık, head of the Sinkhole Research Center at the Konya Technical University, records the phenomenon. Last year he counted around 350 sinkholes in the Konya plain but that has nearly doubled and he recorded 600 major sinkholes so far this year. The increase is being attributed to a severe drought coupled with the overuse of groundwater.
I have dived into the issue of drought for the past few months & finally last week went to go see sinkholes with @volkikam in Karapınar in Konya which is described as Turkey’s breadbasket. Farmers & experts say sinkholes are increasing as drought worsens. https://t.co/uKpmwXglqM pic.twitter.com/HU5mTm0beV
— Raziye Akkoç (@RazAkkoc) April 22, 2021
Almost 77 percent of Turkey’s water is consumed by the agricultural sector. Sinkholes appear when underground caverns created by drought can no longer contain the weight of the layer of soil above. This creates a dilemma for farmers as accessing water by other means is more expensive. Continued reliance on groundwater will likely make the problem only worse.
The drought is a two-pronged problem: dry weather has depleted water resources and water levels are low in streams, reservoirs, and groundwater levels, posing an additional difficulty. As such, even if significant amounts of rain fall, the drought will not be entirely alleviated.
Visions of the earth suddenly opening up and swallowing evil-doers epitomizes the Biblical concept of divine retribution. Rabbi Avraham Arieh Trugman, director of Ohr Chadash Torah Institute, explained that the proliferation of sinkholes was inherently connected to the story of Korach, the Biblical archetype of a sinkhole swallowing up evildoers. He revealed a hidden clue from a 16th-century mystic hinting at how this fits into the pre-Messianic picture.
And the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men that appertained unto Korach, and all their goods. Numbers 16:32
Rabbi Trugman explained that the claims of Korach were actually identical to liberal universalism that is prevalent in western society.
“According to the commentaries, Korach was an incredibly righteous man who never sinned until he rebelled against Moses and Aaron,” explained Rabbi Trugman. “His claim that all the Jews were equal was a valid claim, but it was made at the wrong time. His vision was for the messianic era, which is why he wasn’t killed. According to the Midrash (Bible commentary), he was swallowed up by the earth and will reemerge in the days preceding the Messiah.”
Rabbi Trugman quoted an esoteric teaching by Rabbi Isaac Luria Ashkenazi, a 16th-century mystic known as ‘Ha’Ari Zal’ from Safed, concerning a verse from Psalms.
The righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree. צַדִּיק כַּתָּמָר יִפְרָח Psalms 92:13
This verse hints that Korach’s ideas which were unacceptable in his era will become the ideal after the Messiah.
“The Ari taught that the last letters of these words, which describe the end of days, spell out the name of Korach,” Rabbi Trugman revealed. “When Korach first made his claims of universalism, that we are all holy and God is in our midst, he was blinded by ego and it wasn’t yet the right time for that reality. In the future, in the End of Days, Korach will be considered righteous and his claims of universalism will be accepted.”
According to Jewish tradition, Korach and his followers did not die after being swallowed up by the earth and remain alive, awaiting the end of days when they will resurface. A Midrash related by the Talmudic commentary called Tosafot (Kiddushin 31B) describes how this is connected to the appearance of the Third Temple. The Tosafot asks why Psalm 82 is described as a ‘Mizmor’, a joyous song, when it’s the subject matter is the tragedies accompany the destruction of the Temple. The Tosafot explain that Asaf, a descendant of Korach, saw the salvation of his ancestor in the destruction of the Temple and Israel.
It is compared to a maidservant who went to draw water from the well and whose pitcher fell into the well. She became distraught and began to cry – until the king’s maidservant came to draw water carrying a golden pitcher, and it too, fell into the well. At which point the first maidservant began to sing. ‘Till now’, she exclaimed, I didn’t think that anybody would retrieve my cheap earthenware pitcher from the well. But now, whoever retrieves the golden pitcher, will retrieve mine as well!’ In the same way, when the sons of Korach, who were swallowed up inside the earth, saw how the gates of the Temple sunk into the ground, proclaimed ‘Whoever rescues the gates will also rescue us!’ That explains why Asaf, who was from the family of Korach, said ‘Mizmor.’