Rabbi Yossi's Blog

Welcome to Rabbi Yossi's Blog; where you can expect to find thoughts on current events, Torah learning and Jewish spirituality. And of course, some good Jewish humor.

Your Chance to Partner With Hashem!

Guest post by Rabbi Yossi Serebryanski, Chabad South Denver.

It is with sadness and horror that we witnessed the tragedy in Haiti.

There is a desperate effort to bring clean water and food to the country with mass starvation a real possibility.

Please take a moment and read the first paragraph of Birchat Hamozon.

Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who, in His goodness, provides sustenance for the entire world with grace, with kindness, and with mercy. He gives food to all flesh, for His kindness is everlasting. Through His great goodness to us continuously we do not lack [food], and may we never lack food, for the sake of His great Name. For He, benevolent G-d, provides nourishment and sustenance for all, does good to all, and prepares food for all His creatures whom He has created, as it is said: You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. Blessed are You, L-rd, who provides food for all.

How can we say this blessing when millions will go hungry this very evening?

My friends this is where Hashem gives us a chance to partner with him in creation.

There is enough food in this world for every human to be fed, the way Hashem sets up creation is such, that there is an imbalance of wealth.

The rabbis explain that this imbalance forces people to engage in commerce and industry, and gives the wealthy a chance to give tzedaka, which will lead to Tikkun Olam a healed and integrated world.

I have no doubt that in the next few days we will see the biggest airlift of food since the Berlin siege. Case in point, one of our alumni (of University of Denver, where Rabbi Serebryanski is the local Chabad rabbi) serving in the US Army is already on the ground in Haiti helping to coordinate the American response.

Now YOU have a unique opportunity to partner with Hashem in bringing food to the hungry.

Please click on this link to find an agency to support, or click here to see the relief efforts of the local Chabad representatives.

May the merit of the mercy you show, be repaid by Hashem's mercy to you.
Mida Kneged Mida- measure for measure.

Why Have You Done Bad to this People?!

One Rabbi's Response to the Haitian Earthquake of 2010
Guest post by Rabbi Shais Taub

It's hard enough to comprehend the significance of what a 7.0 magnitude earthquake does to a densely populated area. It's even harder to imagine what this means when most of the people affected are already living in sub-standard conditions.

Haiti is figured to be the poorest country in the Americas. Something like a third of its GNP is foreign aide. It's been wracked by disease, war, hurricanes and, now, earthquake. It's unreal. Anyone who says that they can understand it clearly doesn't understand it at all.

Most of us will react with compassion. We will feel sympathy for the millions displaced from their homes, searching for lost relatives and left without access to even the most meager resources. Some of us will find somewhere to quickly donate online to help in the relief effort.

And then there are those – a very, very small number actually – who will take it upon themselves to interpret for us the meaning of the disaster. They will try to extract moral lessons from what happened. Perhaps they will find some reason to explain why the Haitian people deserve such pitifully bad luck. They did the same thing after Katrina and after the Tsunami. They are quick to figure out why people suffer and to hold up the victims as a frightening example of G‑d's potential wrath to us as well.

Please, do not listen to those who exploit human suffering for rhetorical flair.

They will tell you that G‑d wants to tell us something and that if we don't learn from this, there will be more calamity.

I know this because this is how they respond to every tragedy that grabs the world's attention.

What they are loath to admit is that we have no idea why this happened. We have no idea why G‑d did this. There are no answers that we can understand.

How then are we of faith to react? I mean, in addition to offering our help and our sympathy. How are we supposed to look at something like this?

Just this past Saturday, in Jewish communities all over the world, we read the first portion of the Book of Exodus—a portion which ends with Moses' complaint to G‑d: "Why have You done bad to Your people?"

The answer to this question comes at the beginning of this week's Torah reading, in which G‑d basically answers that the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, also had cause to question Him but never did. In other words, G‑d doesn't answer the question. Rather, He tells Moses that from another perspective – the perspective of the Patriarchs – it would not even occur to ask such a question.

It's actually quite remarkable. G‑d never answered the question.

I wonder if that's because G‑d knew that Moses wouldn't be able to understand the answer... or because He knew that he would?

It is not for us to be comfortable with human suffering. It is certainly not for us to rationalize it away or, worse yet, to use false piety to audaciously explain the unexplainable.

Does G‑d have a plan? Does He know what He is doing? Yes.

Are we able to explain what that is? If we do, we show that we have not only lost our hearts but also our minds.

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