When an earthquake is really just an earthquake…

When an earthquake is really just an earthquake…

Earthquake in Iraq
1927 Earthquake in Israel

Israel has experienced several earthquakes in the last few days. Without question, an earthquake is nothing to ignore or become complacent about.

On a scale of one to catastrophic, our recent earthquakes rate around a 4 (at least according to the Richter scale). In fact, even Richter terms these as “light”. Still, it’s less than comforting to know that an earthquake ranking in the “light” category still has the impact of an “small” atomic bomb (and no, I have no idea what Wikipedia means by a small atomic bomb).1927 Earthquake

No sooner does an earthquake hit somewhere in the world, somewhere, someone is going to suggest that the earthquake carries greater significance. And maybe sometimes it does. All things are, if you are a person of faith, the intent of God, the hand of God. The problem is not so much the role of God, but the role we assume God will take.

An earthquake in Iran means that God is punishing the Iranians? An earthquake in the north of Israel means God is displeased with…fill in the blank. Maybe, maybe an earthquake is simply the earth shaking under our feet, pressure being released?

For now, we’ll hope that this little series of earthquakes doesn’t lead to a larger one, as happened in 1927. For now, maybe we’ll take the warning that the earth sometimes shakes and it’s best that we don’t presume to assume what God means by each action or reaction of the earth.

On a scale of one to ten, we got off easy. Devastation did not come to our land today and for this we should be grateful. Many scientists say Israel is long overdue for a huge earthquake. We do what we can, build as safely as we can, and we prepare. But more, if there is one good reaction that should come out of these little quakes, it is to remind us that we are human and we all live under the same sky, the same stars.

However evil the government of Iran might be, few Israelis think the Iranian people are evil. Let’s remind ourselves the next time something happens to our enemies, that whatever are the ways of God, the ways of man require us to be more humble.

Perhaps we cannot stop our enemies from rejoicing when bad things happen in Israel, but we can stop ourselves from rejoicing when tragedy befalls our enemies. Let God be the judge of man; for us, let us be grateful that the “big” one didn’t come today.

And as the week ends and the Jewish Sabbath approaches, let’s celebrate where we are, who we are rather than worry about others. Shabbat shalom


  1. Zalmo

    When there was the huge earthquake in San Francisco about a hundred or so years ago, the Chofetz Chaim said something like…where there is tragedy in the world, the world’s Jews needed to look at themselves and needed to be better, do t’shuvah, make the world a better place. If bad things happen, we all should look at ourselves, lend a helping hand, and do better.
    We are all in this (world) together

  2. Earl Littlefield Jr

    To people who follow God, both Christians & Jews, signs & omens are given to remind us to get back on the pathway outlined in the Bible / Torah, respectively. Like the prophets of old, signs & omens are very often ignored by the majority. There are penalties for ignoring God.

  3. Zev Shandalov

    Yasher koach…one of my pet peeves is when the holier-than-thous declare they know God’s mind (impossible to). A fire was because a woman’s sleeves were too short; an earthquake because someone ate meat that the shochet watched the World Cup; an earthquake because of mixed dancing. While there are reasons behind whatever Hashem does, no human can presume to know what those reasons are. That is all in the realm of the Supreme Being…once a person (foolish one at that) makes a declaration as to WHY Hashem did one act or another, he has shown his ignorance and foolishness.

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