The world is undergoing a global plague of flooding that many are trying to shrug off as a passing anomaly. However, one rabbi thinks the widespread meteorological disasters hold a clear message to the Jewish people.
Last Thursday, politicians in Paris packed up their briefcases and left a conference that was a prelude to forcing Israel to accept an internationally imposed two-state solution. Just a few hours after the conference ended, the Seine river rose over 6 meters, levels that have not been seen in over 100 years. Sections of the Metro shut down and workers scrambled to save over 250,000 priceless pieces of art stored in the basement of the Louvre, the world’s largest museum. Thousands were forced from the homes into shelters.
The storm in Paris was only the beginning. The rains that hit Paris spread across Europe over the weekend, causing massive flooding throughout the continent. Southern and Central Germany were hit with heavy storms, raising river less by as much as four meters within minutes, killing 14 people.
Perhaps the strangest aspect of this natural disaster was the human element. Despite meteorology being an advanced science, scientists were caught off guard. Inexplicably, there were virtually no preemptive warnings from the government and scientific institutions constantly on the watch to protect people from these natural disasters.
Two people were killed by flooding in Romania and hundreds were made homeless as rising waters flooded roadways, cutting off thousands more people.
Rain and flooding were not the only strange weather to manifest. Over 70 people were injured by lightning at the Rock am Ring music festival in Germany on Saturday, forcing officials to cancel the last day, sending over 90,000 wet and disappointed fans home.
The flooding was not a local meteorological phenomenon limited to Europe. Last Friday, while Parisians were swimming home, Krasnodar, Russia got hit in three hours with almost 3.5 inches of precipitation, what is normally a full month of rain.
No populated continent was spared. In America, extreme flooding hit the Gulf Coast of Texas, threatening 31 counties. Tragedy struck in Fort Hood when a military vehicle was swept away during a training exercise. Nine soldiers were killed in the accident. Nine more people were killed as at least six tornadoes struck in the state and record levels of precipitation fell in some areas. Water levels are still rising in South Texas.
Right across the border, Iztapalapa, one of the most densely populated areas of Mexico, was hit by flooding that forced hundreds of families from their homes.
In Asia, heavy floods hit the east and central provinces of China, rendering thousands homeless. Parts of that storm flooded India as well
The Eastern Australia coast was pounded by storms on Sunday while flooding hit the southeastern side of the continent, killing three.
In Biblical times, the flooding would likely have been seen as an expression of God’s anger, as nature was understood to be God’s aspect of judgement. When the Egyptians drowned in the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21), the sea was considered to be acting on God’s behalf. Joshua went to battle and the sun stood still for him (Joshua 10:13) as an expression of God’s will. Most of the ten plagues (Exodus 7:14) could be explained by geological, climate or weather-related causes, yet they were divinely directed.
What connection, if any, is there between today’s weather events and divine will? One rabbi has an answer.
“It’s beyond our ability to ascribe any direct connection between these natural events and any human cause,” Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf, a Jewish educator and author of many books on Torah, told Breaking Israel News. “But my teacher, Rabbi Noach Weinberg, used to say, ‘The battle for life is the battle for sanity’.”
Rabbi Apisdorf explained that the unusual weather patterns were not mere freaks of nature, but held a vital message which no one can afford to ignore. “The greatest insanity is to sleepwalk through reality and completely miss what is right in front of us,” he said.
“Whether it is a tsunami, earthquake, flood, or hurricane, when these things happen they grab our attention and force us to look, shaking us from the slumber of our everyday lives.”
The connection to Israel and the Jewish people is clear, he continued. “One underlying message they are saying is ‘wake-up’. If there is a connection to the process that is affecting the Jewish people, then these events are telling us to wake up to what is happening to the Jewish people and the land of Israel.”
“This point in Jewish history is nothing less than a shift in the entire direction of the Jewish people that surpasses any shift that could ever take place in the tectonic plates shifting under the earth.”
For now, the world can rest assured, knowing that as bad as the flooding gets, God promised Noah that he would not destroy the world by flooding again (Genesis 9:16).