emunah, tefillah, a little mussar, and a shmeck of geula

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Here We Go Again

Anyone who lives on the east coast of the United States has by this time heard the dire predictions concerning Hurricane Sandy.  Maybe these predictions will chas v'shalom come to fruition in whole or in part in the next few days or they won't.  In either case that will be a fact that those affected by it will deal with.  But lest we make the same mistake as we collectively did last year in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene when we cut Hashem out of the postmortem, I'm reposting EmunahSpeak: A Divinely Pulled Punch before Sandy hits for the purpose of assessing the storm in its proper context in whatever form it ends up taking.

A Divinely Pulled Punch

Hurricane Irene or Tropical Storm Irene or just a rainy day named Irene depending on where one lives and the condition of one’s basement, has (almost) come and gone leaving most of us a little wetter, no wiser, and maybe even less so.

While there was plenty of water to go around in upstate New York, Northern New Jersey, and Vermont to mention but a few of the waterlogged venues visited by Irene, these and most of the others severely affected by the storm were victims of fresh water flooding courtesy of voluminous amounts of rain that overwhelmed storm sewers and sent local rivers over their banks.

The flooding in parts of Westchester County was such that if not for the occasional sighting of a guardrail ever so slightly poking out above the water line, it would have been impossible to distinguish the Saw Mill River Parkway from the Saw Mill River.

On the other hand, the threatened Storm Surge that put to flight thousands of residents of the South Shore of Long Island and forced the evacuation of the entire Rockaway Peninsula failed to significantly materialize, and as a result my neighbors and I still have where to live, Boruch Hashem.
In the aftermath of Irene,Weatherdom, by means of satellite tracking, high speed computers, and specialized software modeling, all of which comprise the heart and soul of weather forecasting, has every answer to any conceivable question as to what did or did not happen, storm wise, to the New York Metropolitan area between Friday and Sunday the week before last.

It’s all a matter of timing.

After the fact, we are treated to cutting edge sophisticated analysis.  And before the fact, like when it might count for something, one could do just as well by flipping a coin.  It’s the high tech version of drawing the bull’s eye around the arrow wherever it lands. 

It’s bad enough when the Weatherman attempts to explain away weather in general and Hurricane Irene in particular in the language of teva.  But as insufferable as the Weatherman’s teva babble may be to the ears of those whose heads are screwed on according to the Manufacturer’s specifications, it’s beyond inexcusable when those of us who profess to see through the teva smokescreen begin to think and speak in the tevadik language by which Weatherdom and the rest of the secular world defines its existence.

As I look out across the street to the peaceful ocean beyond I am less troubled about reports of another hurricane forming south east of the Bahamas that will put the entire coast from North Carolina to New England definitely at risk than I am by the general response to Irene, or rather lack thereof. 

In advance of the storm, some of us went to the Catskills, some to Queens, others to Brooklyn, and a number of us sought refuge in Monsey.

But where did Hashem go?

To hear people talk, one would think that at the same time many of us were packing out of the area in a hurry, Hashem was also heading for the high ground to points north and west of the city.

While most of us correctly see the Yad Hashem in devastating manifestations of “Nature” we seem to have a blind spot with the flip side of the equation which, in the absence of the predicted devastation, leads all too many of us to see no more than another "mistake" by the Weatherman, and "mistakes" by the Weatherman tend to preclude the perception of a hatzala which in turn is not particularly conducive to a teary eyed Modim.

The weather people tell us that in the last twenty years or so they have made great advances in tracking violent storms, and indeed, the predicted path of Irene was almost spot on to the tract the storm actually took.  Hashem allows them to follow His Shadow around as He flashes them the picture He wants them to see, which is accurate at its inception.  And then, not being bound by the teva that is driving the computer models that are trying to make sense of the storm, He does as He pleases.

Had Hashem stuck with the original picture of Irene that He revealed to the weather satellites, the storm would have whacked us pretty good.  But at the end of the day rather than devastating most, if not all of the kehillas stretching from Baltimore to Boston, He withdrew His Hand and threw water in our face instead.

And all we saw was rain.