New York – Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski on Haiti Earthquake


    Dr. Abraham J. TwerskiNew York – The recent tragedy in Haiti has elicited a number of comments. People question why G-d permits such catastrophes to happen. Others ask, why go to places of worship to pray for the victims to the G-d who smote them? Some people see such tragedies as expressions of G-d’s wrath, but, are the victims of earthquake, tsunami and tornadoes to be considered the most sinful people in the world?

    My understanding of these happenings is based on the statement of the Zohar, that the Torah was the “blueprint” according to which G-d created the world. In other words, Torah is Natural Law, according to which the world operates. The Law of Gravity is Natural Law and is inviolable as are other physical laws, and so is the Natural Law of Torah. If the physical law that keeps the moon in its orbit were somehow suspended, the moon would crash into the earth, but this would not be a punitive act by G-d. If someone puts one’s hand into a fire, one gets burned, but that is not a punitive act of G-d. Rather, it is the result of Natural Law that fire burns.

    According to the Torah, there are seven Noahide Laws that are binding on all human beings, and these constitute the Natural Law according to which the world operates; these are:

    1. Prohibition of idolatry
    2. Prohibition of murder
    3. Prohibition of theft
    4. Prohibition of sexual promiscuity
    5. Prohibition of blasphemy
    6. Prohibition of flesh taken from a live animal
    7. Requirement to have just laws.

    All human beings, religionists and non-religionists are required to abide by these laws, which underlie the Natural Law according to which the world operates. Violation of these laws is tampering with Natural Law, whose consequences can be catastrophic.

    The world is a closed system. When a butterfly flaps its wings in Norway, it affects the ecology in Australia. When the Natural Law is intact, the earth’s crust and the atmosphere are stable. When air pollution tampers with the ozone layer, or sulfur dioxide pollution causes acid rain, the effects may be felt hundreds of miles away from the perpetrators. The people suffering these effects are not being “punished” by G-d, but are the victims of the reckless behavior of other people.

    Is this an injustice? Yes, just as it is an injustice for a pedestrian to be killed by a reckless driver. Such happenings occur because G-d does not interfere with the free choice and behavior of human beings. Just as we do not fault G-d when an innocent person is killed by a reckless driver, we should not fault G-d when innocent people, victims of hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and tsunami, suffer from the reckless behavior of those who violate the Natural Law.

    No one is singled out to suffer the consequences of tampering with Natural Law. Violation of the seven Noahide Laws by people on one continent may result in a disruption of the Natural Law according to which the world operates, and the consequences of such disruption may occur on a distant continent. The disruption of the Natural Law which affected Indonesia and Haiti may have been caused by violations of the Noahide Laws by people the world over. No individual or group of people can be singled out as responsible and as being punished.

    The seven Noahide Laws are the basis of decency and morality. Every human being should behave according to them.

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    1. That is the poorest attempt at theodicy since Pat Robertson’s tirade. Earthquakes are caused by the movement of tectonic plates in the earth’s crust. They occur without regard to people’s behavior (and were around long before people arrived on the scene).

      If natural disasters were a function of a “Natural Law” of which Torah is a part, then one should be able to explain, from a scientific perspective, exactly how much avoda zara I have to commit (and where) before I cause an earthquake in Haiti or a flood in New Orleans. If you have no way of explaining that, or testing the theory, that means that you can’t make a serious claim that earthquakes and avoda zara are linked in the natural order of things.

      • Dr. Twerski never suggested that there is not individual hashgochas Hashem in a tragedy. All he stated was that it is inaccurate to attribute such events to a specific “punishment”, as if we have any way of understanding HKB”H’s cheshbonos. Thus, one cannot measure avoda zarah in Haiti and arrive at a scientific conclusion. There is a major difference between these natural disasters and the ten makos, the latter defying science. Both involve hashgocho pratis, but the makos were miraculous, not a part of natural law.

      • Your comment is the highest point of apikursis that exists. To say that the Torah is not Natural Law or that the Torah wasn’t the blueprint for creation is going against the absolute beliefs of yiddishkeit. And don’t rationalize by saying, well that’s your opinion. No, it’s not my opinion. It’s the opinion of Chazal, Rambam, et al. There is no question that what we view as science and scientific theory and laws are correct. But keep in mind that science still does not have a unification theory of physics. And maybe just maybe this unification theory is the Torah Natural Law blueprint. Which granted I don’t know nor does Rabbi Dr. Twerski aver to know in depth (although I’m sure that some of his grandfathers did know). Rav Mordechai Gifter ztzl, the late rosh yeshiva of Telz, once said, “if a bochur in yeshiva eats cholov akum then a yid in Paris will end up eating treif”. There is cause and effect in this world, recognized by scientific theory. And there is no doubt that carbom emissions in China affect the glaciers of Alaska. Scientific lack of understanding and knowledge of the Torah blueprint, along with your obvious ignorance of it, does not take away from its existance.

        • so I can now explain my recent behavior of stealing from my friends. If the spinka rov and SMR commit fraud this will cause formally to steal from his friends.

          Thanks I knew there was a reason for my recent abnormal behavior

        • Sorry, if something is natural law then it can be tested as such. Until you can design an experiment that will demonstrate a correlation between my practicing apikorsus here in the US and Haitians experiencing earthquakes, your pronouncements on how the Torah is “natural law” are just so much hot air. As to Rabbi Gifter’s comment on yeshiva bochurs eating cholov akum causing Parisians to eat traif, I challenge you to provide a shred of evidence for this ludicrous comment. You can’t, so you’re outside the realm of natural law, and firmly ensconced in the magical land of unwarranted theological speculation.

      • I won’t comment on your knowledge, but your science leaves me wondering what you know of science. There are certain foundations upon which science is based; these are called scientific laws, but they are not immutable. For example, the law of conservation of matter was changed by Einstein. Then there are theories, which are mere postulations of what MIGHT explain an observed phenomenon. There is a THEORY that earthquakes are caused by the movement of tectonic plates. Nobody knows for a fact that they were around long before people arrived on the scene, simply because nobody can neither testify to that, nor prove it. Do you have a way of testing the theory of evolution? If not, why do you insist upon the Rabbi having one? And all of this rests upon the words in the article having been written by the Rabbi. Perhaps he never wrote them. Prove to me that he wrote them.

      • as you read its effect is caused by multiples of people not just you and how much ovodeh zorah u need to worship reread the article and realize what Rabbi Twerski is saying we all r responsible!!!!

    2. There are two Chazals on this matter :
      Kol b’dai Shomayim chutz m’tzinah u’pachad.
      Kol b’dai Shomayim chutz m’yiras Shomayim.
      Chazal link the Earth’s weather conditions to yiras Shomayim of Yidden with these two meimros. Rav Avrohom Chayim Feurer Shlita gave a maamar on this inyan in my Yeshiva years ago.

      • Actually it is, “Hakol Bifei Shomaim chutz m’tzinim upachim (cold and hot) it is a Gemara in Kesubos referring to the Shvatim returning to Yaakov from Yosef in Mitzraim when Yosef told them, Al Tirgezu Baderech” Since he did not want that they should get sick as a result of their long journey.

    3. this confuses me… is Rabbi Twerski saying that each individual doesn’t necessarily get what he “deserves” in his lifetime? So is this “corrected” in the next world? (or next incarnation?)…perhaps “tefila”– prayer– can change the “natural” order…

    4. The only way that people around the world will recognize the importance of sheva mitzvos is if Yidden are telling them about it and how it affects everyone – including ourselves. That’s why the Rambam says that Moshe Rabbeinu gave us a command from Hashem to get everyone in the world to keep sheva mitzvos.

    5. Huh? So someone violates Noachide laws in say San Fransisco, and the people in Haiti and Indonsia get tsushmettered. A little too simplistic sounding to me and it does not answer the question of why did G-d allow such a catastrophe to happen to so many innocent people. I think a better answer would be, that sometimes we don’t have a good answer for our questions.

      • I’m inclined to go with your insight. With all due respect to the people attempting to explain the situation. Sometimes, the best answer is, that there is no answer!!!

    6. wow, Rabbi Twersky. This is well said. It’s a long time since I heared such a Sechel Hayashar on current events. Keep up the good work. We need more lectures like these. Hatzlacha

    7. excellent! how beautifully written. what a politically correct essay. makes no one take the blame. but yet makes the point how everyone is resposible for the world we live in. jew or gentile. he should spread his teachings throughout the world! the world can use a preacher like this dr. rabbi.

    8. David – We live in a secuilar society where it is understood that one needs to educated in neuroscience in order to argue with a neurologist about neurology – but it’s open season on theology . . . anyone can tear into an learned Rav without having even a basic intellectual appreciation of Jewish theology. There is a lot of intellectua; meat here – and to call Rabbi Twersky’s comments “theodicy” is both ignorant and silly. Go study

    9. Twesky is saying if someone commits a sin it will disturb the laws of nature and someone will get hurt but probably not the one who committed the sin. Is this fair?
      Surely God could have made a better world.

      • Sorry, its not fair. But thats how the world is. “Kol yisroel areivim ze luze.” We don’t know Hashem’s chesbonos. Eventually, every individual will be responsible for their deeds.

    10. In shulchan urach there is a brucha for earth quakes and the reason is to show the strength of ‘Hashem’ through the teva of the world. check the mishna berura its simple we need to learn more about haskofa.

    11. I am very suprised to hear a mainstream Orthdox rabbi like R’ Twerski engage in such theodicy. It’s a shame that this will taint his previous pseudo-scientific works.

    12. Smart. Logical. Honest. What more do you want?

      He is right when he says that what we do affects others.

      When we, for example, drive high-fuel consumption cars, we are sending money overseas where tyrannical dictatorships use that money to maintain power and promote terrorism within their own countries (killing dissenters) as well as around the world. No matter what we think about “global warming”, it does not matter. We have companies building real electric-powered cars, employing real Americans right here. So lets cut off their cash supply and once again, we can do something here to change the world… for the better.

      • I am in favor of global warming. I can not stand the cold winters here in New York. It is eco quacks like you who are standing in the way of progress and making this world a warmer more hospitable place to live. Actually,now that real estate in Haiti has become cheaper than Borough Park, and there are a lot less people to crowd me out, I am thinking of relocating there to enjoy the warm sun and pristine ocean. My only problem would be finding a minyan and daily daf.

    13. after 2 weeks this is what he has to say i – perhaps what he did during the 2 weeks is what he should have continued doing.
      Keep Quiet!
      say I too dont know!
      did anyone hear what Rabbi Elyashiv or Rabbi Kanievsky Or Rabbi Shteinman or the Chassidic Rebbes said? they all said nothing!!! at least not to the public.

      will twersky say the holocaust was “Natural Order”?

      at times one is best going back to the basics of judaism. to remind oneself “Hanistaros L’hasem”, and if one happens to think they know the reason, but those living around them wont be able to understand it , they are better off remaining silent.
      i think this qualifies as one such example.

      i will be dan lkaf zechus that he didnt intend these remarks to be made public or he simply offered a possible reason not a verdict.

    14. We could ask the question – why? But earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis have occurred worldwide from time immemorial. It’s G-D’s way of waking us up. Firstly, the Jewish people must do tshuvah. We are lacking today more than probably anytime since ancient history when there was idol worship in the Land. Today, much of the same is happening. Read what’s happening in EY (missionaries,etc.) Secondly, we cannot understand HaShem’s ways. There are many people in Haiti worshiping voodoo, something the ancient Egyptians were notorious for. Who knows the answer. There is another aspect to this, the powers today are manipulating the weather & are working on all kinds of things that the public is not aware of. Even if sometimes, things of this nature are done by man – it’s because G-D knows that evil is perpetrated by man & sometimes He hands out whatever befalls man through the natural forces of nature & man. Whatever the reason, only He knows, but we must learn something from it. The poor Haitians have suffered terribly & it’s wonderful to see the outpouring of chesed from the world & it’s good to read all the accolades Israel got for their chesed. We pray for Hashem’s mercy.

      • He hands out whatever befalls man through the natural forces of nature & man. Whatever the reason, only He knows, but we must learn something from it.

        one cannot learn something if he only knows. Or, every person will learn form it whatever thing, good, smart idiotic, they want. A really bad system

    15. The bottom line is take it as a warning. It is meant to show something regardless so take the warning and look and Hashems strength! A country that takes years to build can be destroyed in 20 seconds .

    16. all this feel good attitude of naive writers about hashem punishing people for sins is nothing but baloney for the no brainers in here acting like 2 year olds and not using their g-d given saihel brain its a shame how grown ups act like infants a shande

        • It is more insane to believe that we have the abbility to interprete occurrences on our direct line to hashme yisborach. It is this fallacy which made me gringe when i heard statements about what happened to European Jewry. I came from 7 years under Hitler of which 4 years in concentration camp and wanted to restore the home my mother and father had sit at the table and sing zmiros like my father. The fallacy is that there is no answer for the pora adomo we don’t know. Maybe some events cannot be fathom by our mind and we must have emunah to believe and continue. I believe Rabbi/Dr. Twersky probably has a sane approach to these events instead of those chachomim who must find an answer othewise their emunah fades away like old soldier. This type of outlook is causal for the most absurd statement why the gas chamber in
          Treblinka burned frum and not frum and smoke emitted by the crematorium in Buchenwald was from bodies of those who davened and those who never set a foot in synagogue. If you bear this mind you have no problems

    17. The Noachide laws have been violated since the beginning of time. According to this logic, there should be an earthquake every day all over the world. I can think of good few places where there should have been earthquakes.. How about Nazi Germany – Inquisition Spain, Czarist Russia, just to name a few. We could use a good one in Teheran.

      I would venture to say that the earthquake is, as Rashi says in Parshas Vaera – G-d does “sfhotim” in the world – as a warning to Klal Yisroel to improve. No coincidence that the earthquake was in the week of Parshas Vaera.

    18. I haven’t ever said this about anything written on VIN before today.

      Rabbi Dr. Twersky: siyug lachochma shtika.

      This is the worst explanation of disasters I have ever heard of in my entire life..

    19. OH… Thats true words rabbi twersky is 100% right! and even if only a few people in the whole world will behayve and act better is it all 4 rabbi twerskys credit and GD should help that it shou’dnt happin agen such things.

    20. I have always relied on something like this concept to answer my questions. The world works Al Pi Derech Hetava and things like reward, punishment and justice are left for the World To Come. But I do have a hard time reconciling that with the notion that we can pray to Hashem for intervention. What’s the point? Why daven for one specific sick person when the next day 80,000 people are about to be wiped out? No good answer.

      The other problem I have is that it seems to me that we are taught to believe that even this much isn’t true, and that in fact, Hashem does intervene constantly, in the literal sense. Isn’t that why the first Commandment is not “I am Hashem who created the world,” but rather, “I am Hashem who took you out of Egypt”? To illustrate that Hashem did not just put Teva in place and leave it at that?

      Oh well.

    21. We say three times a day — in the second paragraph of Aleinu — that we hope to see the day when, during the final geula, the Ribbono Shel Olam will remove idolatry from the earth and cuts off all false gods. But when we actually SEE it actually happening (look up Haitian Vodou on Wikipedia: it is one of the most egregious examples of idolatry and witchcraft extant in the world today) everyone gets all politically correct and chastises those who dare to suppose that the words of Aleinu are EMES.

      Both Navi’im and Chazal have told us that during the time of Chevlei Moshiach (birthpangs of Messiah) the world will experience many man-made and natural disasters, and that many people will perish. I am amazed at how many commenters on this thread, so-called ba’alei emunah, are in denial of this…all for the sake of Political Correctness. You need to either stop saying Aleinu, or examine your emunas Hashem.

    22. I am shocked by the drivel that R’ Twerski published. First of all “…disruption of the Natural Law according to which the world operates, and the consequences of such disruption may occur on a distant continent.” is not a scientifically provable statement. I do not understand what natural law he is referring to. His writing also completely disagrees with Rambam who in his writings states that natural disasters are not not due to aveyros but are strictly natural disasters.

      • I am shocked at the drivel that your ignorance is spouting. Carbon emissions in China have no effect on glaciers in Alaska? Is this some sort of hokey pokey theory? Second hand smoke from a stranger can’t cause cancer in people after several years? Is this a punishment or a consequence? Rabbi Dr. Twerski merely said that actions of humans that cause tragedies, whether these human actions are physical or spiritual, are not punishments by G-d but rather consequences of the human actions. If you shake a Coke bottle violently and then open it and become sprayed from head to toe with Coke, is that a punishment or a consequence of your actions? Why is it so hard for secular minds to understand this?

        • Chaim S,

          I do not know what g-d you and Twersky believe in but it is certainly not the g-d of Avrohom, Yitzhok and Yakov. In that story Avrahom davened so that hashem would save even ONE righteous person in Sodom. The Torah states that Hashem is merciful.
          Also, being that you are science expert, perhaps you can tell me how much carbon emission in China is required to melt a glacier in Alaska.

          I am shocked that yiddishkeit is turning into a form of witchery where a so called rabbi like twerski can proclaim any junk and still have people defending him.

          • I am shocked that yiddishkeit is turning into a form of witchery where a so called Chaim S can attack a rabbi like rabbi twerski and proclaim his opinion junk and still have people defending him.

            • I agree with your sentiment, BUT you’ve gotten the commenters mixed up. It was Alex who attacked Rabbi Twerski with a rather intemperate remark (at comment #42). Chaim S. defended Rabbi Twerski and criticized Alex (at comment #49). Alex then attacked both Chaim S. and Rabbi Twerski with additional intemperate remarks (at comment #77). So your beef is with Alex (and I wholeheartedly agree) and not with Chaim S.

            • I guess you’d prefer to have Yiddishkeit turn into a cult of personality where a so-called rabbi can proclaim any foolish thing he likes, and nobody will think of challenging him. Thanks– I’ll stick with a Yiddishkeit that has actual thinking Jews in it, and not just kosher sheep.

    23. I totally disagree with Rabbi Twersky’s explanation. Everyone is judged according to his deeds. Some difficulties and advantages are the results of sins and mitzvos respectively. Other events are in the nature of tests for an individual.

      Poverty may be a punishment or a test for a person. No one gets what they don’t deserve without some cheshbon of din or trade off in terms of s’char.

      This totally random explanation of Rabbi Twersky is not correct in my opinion.

    24. Everyone is entitled to their opinion…. Unfortunately.

      I will just stick to my Rabbi and do as he says, even he doesn’t agree with my “educated” opinion.

    25. I don’t know why every one looks for answer its aopen gemoro Brochos 59
      its because Hashem drops 2 tears in ocean because he can’t handel tzoros yisroel in golus
      &this; brings it
      so we have to do tshuva to get out of golus
      & this brings it

    26. from an Associated Press report:

      “Ena Zizi had been at a church meeting…when last week’s earthquake struck, trapping her. She was rescued yesterday by a Mexican disaster team. Zizi said that after the quake…,she spent the rest of the time praying and waiting. ‘I talked only to my boss, G-d,’ she said. ‘And I didn’t need any more humans.'”

      From out of the idolatry of Haitian Voodoo, this gentile woman gave the world a valuable lesson…the lesson that this earthquake was meant to teach…the lesson that we Jews proclaim in Aleinu three times a day (see my comment at #40). Read her words again: “I TALKED ONLY TO MY BOSS, G-D.” If only the world would listen. She understood that G-d controls EVERY event in the world and that G-d alone was able to save her. Here is a ba’ales emunah among the gentiles. What a shame that so many so-called Orthodox Jews commenting here need to learn this lesson as well.

      • the lesson is

        if there is an earthquake I hope humans are around to save me.

        There are also people who prayed to their idol or voodo dolls and they were saved too. I guess that prove voodoo is the real thing. Why did you not pick up on that

    27. reply to # 40. The world has experienced both man made and natural disasters for many millenia. does that mean , that we’ve been experiencing “chevlei-moshiach ‘all along ?

      • We know that Moshiach could have come along at any time in history. The Ribbono Shel Olam has been klopping humankind over the head for millenia to straighten out and recognize (as did that Haitian woman who I quoted in comment #44) that Hashem is the “Boss”…ain ode milvado…there is none but Him! So…yes…the potential as always been there (as per Rambam’s 12th principle).

        There has been much written, from all quarters — chassidish and litvish — that we are NOW in the ultimate times of chevlei Moshiach. See, for example:

        1) “Redemption Unfolding” (Feldheim) by Rabbi A. Mandelbaum, of Yeshivas Mir in Yerushalayim; or
        2) “A Question of Redemption” (Kol Mevaser Publ.) by Rabbi Y.M. Bergman; or
        3) “On Eagles Wings” (Targum/Feldheim) by Rabbi Hershel Brand of Yeshivas Ner Yaakov
        4) “What’s Next: Doomsday and Redemption,” a shiur by Rabbi Eliyahu Kin of the Torah Ohr Center in Los Angeles (viewable on YouTube).

        As well, HaRav Simcha Wasserman zt”l (in “Reb Simcha Speaks”) and HaRav Aharon Feldman shlit”a, Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Yisrael (in “The Eye of the Storm”) address this issue of chevlei Moshiach in our day, as well.

    28. In my opinion the Haitians were punished for their own deeds. There is no reason to think they are being punished for others deeds. Hashem is no reason to think they are being punished for others deeds. Hashem is giving them what He feels they deserve. People like to forget, its G-d’s world and we as humans must live by His rules. Humans have no right to exist we only exist because G-d in His abundant Endless kindness chose to create man to bestow goodness upon him. When G-d feels that its time up that’s it its time up. The people of the flood were that its time up that’s it its time up. The people of the flood were punished for their actions, the people of Soddom and Gomorah were punished for their sins and Haiti was punished for its sins. You can google it, 1/2 of the population Haiti is actively involved in Voodoo practice. My instincts tell me G-d was very patient with these people for many years but He just HAD ENOUGH OF THEIR IDOL WORSHIPPING WAYS. punished for their actions, the people of Soddom and Gomorah were punished for their sins and Haiti was punished for its sins. You can punished for their sins and Haiti was punished for its sins. You can google it, 1/2 of the population Haiti is actively involved in Voodoo google it, 1/2 of the population Haiti is actively involved in Voodoo practice. My instincts tell me G-d was very patient with these people for many years but He just HAD ENOUGH OF THEIR IDOL WORSHIPPING WAYS. practice. My instincts tell me G-d was very patient with these people for many years but He just HAD ENOUGH OF THEIR IDOL WORSHIPPING many years but He just HAD ENOUGH OF THEIR IDOL WORSHIPPING WAYS WAYS. Remember, every second of life on earth is a gift of G-d. If we live a life contrary to His wishes we FORFEIT our right to exist.

      • since you know the ways of hashem, explain to me why 6,000,000 Jews were murdered and why hashem allowed it to happen.

        I am sure if you google for information will come up with an answer.

        We are waiting

        • how about leaving yideshkeit en mass, by the millions. Like Rav Miller once said “When Hashem unleashes the angel of destruction, that angel does not differentiate between frum and non frum”

    29. why can’t people disagree with rabbi twersky in a respectful manner? he does more for klal yisroel in a day then you anonymus big shots will do in a life time.

    30. Hashem hu Elukim!

      Rabbi Twerskey, I am extremely surprised that you, a Tchernobler and Bobver descendant would attempt to shut G-D out of this world. This goes against the Tanya, Chovas Halvovos and Eminah Ibatochon from the chazon Ish. No one and nothing can hurt another human being without G-D allowing and not just by natural creation free will.

      As the Rambam explains, the paradox between free will and prediction of G-D cannot be explained, and is only natural that we cannot understand our creator. If we would understand him, we would be him. If we want to theorize why this happened, maybe these third world creatures are reincarnations of previous sinful people.

      • youre very simplistic and we live in a technologically advanced stage where you dont always bring g-d here as tough you know it all you are very very arrogant in bringing g-d into every happening or as we see it in haiti thats what the terrorists also do justify everything they do in the name of g-d people are not stupid and dont insult humanities intelligence di shoite

      • You have not read what he wrote. Go back and try it again. He never proclaimed that Natural Law excludes G-d. Natural Law is the טבע that Hashem built into the world, and it continues to exist every second on the constant hashgocho the He uses to manage the universe. All Dr. Twerski did was to state that Torah Law is part of Natural Law, and that there is reason to the tragedies that is completely consistent with Torah. The only trouble we have is that we do not know or understand all that is included in Torah Law. In this thinking, the tragedy is a natural consequence that HKB”H brings about. But it is chutzpah to claim that Dr. Twerski was omitting hashgochas Hashem from his explanation.

        • Well if you say, that there is natural law and that one can hurt another person that is the exact same thing as saying there is no Hashgacha or even if you admit there is what good does it do?

          Besides that, it goes against main-stream Judaism and especially Chasiddic ideology to believe that one can hurt another person without exact Cheshbon and Hashgacha. I am sorry he has strayed from his ancestors ways.

          These questions are best left untouched as how would one explain the shoah or pogroms that killed maimed the best of us including little innocent children.

          • As long as you misquote and misrepresent what he said, you will continue to claim that he has strayed from the ways of his ancestors. All the rest of us may disagree, but won’t pass judgments based on words we placed in his mouth.

    31. Please don’t lump natural sciences like physics, laws of gravity, geology which are universal with “natural laws” of morality which are subjective to interpretation and different with every society and every culture. You believe that Zohar is your source of Natural laws, but Asian cultures were not exposed to Judea-Christian theology through crusades and colonialism. They do not share similar moral codes, but have a rich history of existence that spans over 3,000 years as well. Twersky’s article is contradicting. First he says things like earthquakes, accidents are not punitive acts of God but rather natural occurrences, and then jumps to blame immorality for the reason why these things happen.
      According to U.S. Geological Survey and geophysicists around the world, tectonic plate shifting is not related to human behavior, rather a natural occurrence as land mass constantly moves. Countries like Japan, Iran, Argentina, Israel are situated near fault lines and are prone to strong earthquakes once ever 100 years. There are thousands of earthquakes around the world every year, most under 4 magnitude so don’t hear about them.

    32. I don’t know why every one looks for answer its aopen gemoro Brochos 59
      its because Hashem drops 2 tears in ocean because he can’t handel tzoros yisroel in golus
      &this; brings it
      so we have to do tshuva to get out of golus
      & this brings it

    33. Just before he was niftar Rebbe Chaim Dovid Thoreau (the Rachdat) was asked by one of his chasidim how he preceived the relationship between our own actions and those of the general community to our fate and especially to olam habah. He answered very simply. His exact words were, “One world at a time.” He said no more before his p’tirah. There is much to be learned from this imrah of the Rachdat. We should be anavim; we don’t know and it is preferable not to speculate. Just keep quiet, and work on our own midos and try to influence those around you for their (and our) good. Opinions like that reportedly expressed by this respected rav are simply superfluous. And there is no point in arguing whether he is right or wrong. S’yag l’chomchah – shtikah.

    34. To all the chachomim on this website my question is. In Brazil they practice a form of voodoo/witchcraft called santeria nevertheless Brazil is an upcoming economy. The Real is a hard currency and its economy with India and China are booming and Lula has improved the national standard of living. They just discovered petroleum and export aircrafts and machinery

      • I don’t understand your point. If Hashem chose to send a message in one part of the world, does that mean the message is not to be heard and understood in another part?

        If the people of Brazil, India, China, or where ever (including Eretz Yisrael, Rachmana Litzlan) continue to ignore Hashem’s warnings, and fail to recognize that “HaShem Hu Elokim, ain ode milvado” (HaShem is G-d, there is none other), then their time will come. Once again, I refer back to the declaration in the second paragraph of Aleinu: the time when ALL idolatry is wiped-out from the world will eventually come, and all the rationalizations and political correctness spouted by Jews and non-Jews alike will not prevent it from coming. This is authentic Jewish hashkafa…anything else is kefira.

    35. 1. The Haitian earthquake has nothing to do with the Jewish people. It is not a signal or message. It was a predictable natural event. God created the laws of nature and the earthquake follows those laws. Same for gravity, evolution and all of science.
      2. Someone who eats cholov akum in America probably enjoys it. It doesn’t cause anything else anywhere. And it’s not a bad thing either.

      • The earthquake has nothing to do with the Jewish people??? Come again? I am absolutely STUNNED by your assertions. They may be your beliefs, but they have NO authenticity in Judaism:

        1) “Disaster visits the world ONLY because of Yisrael.” (Yevamos 63a). Rashi: “To strike fear in them so that they will do teshuva.”

        2) “Sometimes events occur in faraway places and on faraway ISLANDS in order to stir Israel to do teshuva, with dread and fear, lest the same punishment come upon them. This is what the prophet said (Tzefanya 3:6-7): ‘I have destroyed nations, I have laid waste their towers, and I have turned their streets into desolate ruins, and left their cities devastated and uninhabited. I said simply: Fear Me and learn a lesson.’ When you do not suffer in response to the terrible tragedies of others, the punishment does not end; rather, it travels closer and closer to you. There is NO DOUBT that these landmark events are truly WARNINGS FROM HASHEM.” (Droshos HaRan, Hadrush Hashishi).

        Ba’alei Emunah know that their are NO coincidences in the world, and NO force of nature that is not directly controlled by the Ribbono Shel Olam, at every moment of time.

    36. After reading comments all over the internet where people were rightfully outraged at Pat Robertson’s inane and insensitive comments, calling him senile and heartless, I’m just happy that nobody outside the frum world will hear about Rabbi Twerski’s equally offensive and illogical statement.

    37. Alex (comment #42) – the Rambam writes that anyone who says yissurin “just happened” – mikra nikreis – is an achzar – cruel (I believe it is in Hilchos Teshuva, but I would have to find the exact perek/halacha). What writings of the Rambam are you referring to when you say “Rambam who in his writings states that natural disasters are not not due to aveyros but are strictly natural disasters.”?

      • To #90:

        I was referring to Hilchos Taanis where it says that natural disasters are time for Jews to react and sound Shofar. He states that natural disasters happen but cause distress “coincidentally”. It is worth noting that Rambam does not use words such as “magic, witchcraft, superstition, apikoros etc.” He clearly writes that believing that disasters are caused by these factors are FALSE BELIEFS.

        I hope that people on this blog understand that Rambam was what you would call pragmatist today. That is precisely why I am offended by Twersky and wholeheartedly agree with # 89 who compares Twersky to Robertson.

        • I’m sorry Alex, but your assertion that Rambam holds that “natural disasters are not not due to aveyros but are strictly natural disasters” is exactly the OPPOSITE of what he says. Shame on you! Here is a direct quote which you failed to cite (translation based on Moznaim edition of Mishnah Torah):

          Hilchos Taanis 1:3 — …but if they will not cry out…and say instead that “what has happened to us is merely a natural phenomenon, this distress a chance occurrence,” this is a path of cruelty which will cause people to remain attached to their evil ways…This is the meaning of the verse (Vayikra 26:27-28): ‘When I bring distress to you in order encourage you to do teshuva, if you say instead that it is a chance occurrence, I will add [to your punishment] as an expression of vengeance for your indifference [to Divine Providence].

          In other words, it is foolhardy for people to claim that calamities are merely natural occurrences, and not as a result of their evil ways — thereby requiring teshuva. By refusing to acknowledge that all seemingly natural disasters are, in truth, due to Divine Providence, we only risk HaShems continued punishment, until we get it right.

          • Shua,

            This is not what I was quoting! Here is what I was quoting: “It is a positive mitzvah from the Torah to sound and announce with trumpets anytime tragedy besets Klal Yisroel . . . But if they do not cry out and do not sound the shofar, but say “This happened to us because of natural causes, and this distress occurred coincidentally” this is the way of cruelty (derech achzarius) as it causes them to adhere to their evil deeds.”

            Rambam’s word is: CRUELTY. Not “a philosophical error”. Not “an act of heresy.” Not apikorsus. Cruelty! So why is he cruel? The answer is in the last bit of the quote. The silver lining the Rambam saw in natural disasters was that they encouraged people to examine their sins and to repent. He worried that if people were permitted to believe that it was all happenstance, they would miss the opportunity to become better people, and instead “adhere to their evil deeds.” The cruelty, per the Rambam, is not in denying God’s providence, but in denying people the chance to improve themselves.

            This translation is not mine. I got it from a reputable source on the Internet. So do not shame me! Shame on you and Twersky!

            • Your translation of Taanis 1:3 is fine, BUT, you’re leaving out the second part where Rambam brings the supporting posuk in Vayikra. As a result, you are misinterpreting Rambam by saying that “denying G-d’s providence” is not part of the equation.

              Here is how Rabbi Avi Burstein (founder of the Bet Shemesh Educational and Residential Center) explains it: “When I (HaShem) bring calamity on you in order for you to repent, if you say it is accidental [thereby denying Hashgacha Pratis] I will add to you more ‘accidents.’ Rambam states that no suffering happens by chance.”

              Rabbi Berel Berkovitz zt”l (former Dayan of the London Beis Din) summarized this Rambam as follows (in his essay, “Reflections on the Tsunami,” which can be found on “Rambam is not telling us why tragedies occur. He is simply telling us, firstly, that they are not just freaks of nature, but acts of Hashem; and secondly, he is telling us how we should react. It is not for us to explain how Hakadosh Baruch Hu runs His world. It is for us to respond to Him by living as He asks of us.”

              Excuse me if I take my understanding of this Rambam from these talmidei chachamim over your misunderstanding.

            • You are just confirming my argument. If you read the earlier posts, that is exactly what I said. Disasters are time for reflection but they are not a collective punishment to people for what others may have done across the globe as Twersky and other posters here argue.

    38. Rabbi Twersky’s letter is illogical, incoherent and cruel. As others here said, better to say I don’t know than to offer some foolish, unproven explanantion.

      1) G-ds running the world is not natural law. It is religious law. Natural law follows the scientific method and is true in every case. Newton’s law F=m d2x/dx2 applies always and can be tested. But “divine punishment” is completely different. Why weren’t the Nazis punished. A handful were, but most went scot-free, including Hitler, Mengele and thousands others. All the cruel communists went unpunished. Same with many tzorerey yisroel. Why doesn’t Rabbi Twersky’s “Natural Law” apply to them?

      2) What kind of Divine Justice punishes A for the crime of B? Is G-d a moron? He can’t figure out who the culprit is? Or he just doesn’t care? When somebody is robbed, lets just catch any random guy off the street and punish him, rather than the police and courts punishing the criminal.

      3) When a drunk driver or a murderer kills an innocent person, does Rabbi Twersky also believe this is Natural Law, and the person died for nothing? Obviously the RBSH runs every occurrence and if the person was not supposed to die, he would not.

      • this is a very very deep deep subject discussed in the talmud and sifrei mechakrim ,eg: kuzri etc etc, and us little midjets want to understand it from a small article…..start with brochos daf 5a…and just a little tiny aspect of this huge subject see 1st (2nd?) piece of divrei yechskel parshes mispatim…also,to qoute the ostrovitzer, ‘i wouldnt want a g-d that i undrstand him’ see hilchos daious ‘hu vediouso achod’

    39. Alex: My responses to you were specifically to the following words, which you wrote at comment #42: “Rambam in his writings states that natural disasters are not not due to aveyros but are strictly natural disasters.” This does not square with what you yourself quoted from Taanis 1:3 in which Rambam writes that when people INCORRECTLY say that “‘this happened to us because of *natural causes,* and this distress occurred coincidentally,’ this is the way of cruelty as it causes them to adhere to their EVIL DEEDS.”

      Now, what are “evil deeds” if not aveyros? So, restating Rambam: if people fail to recognize that Hashem has brought upon them disasters through nature as punishments for their evil deeds (aveyros), they will not do teshuva and continue to do aveyros.

      Rambam is fully in accord with Droshos HaRan (see comment #92), to wit: “Sometimes events occur in faraway places and on faraway islands in order to stir Israel to do teshuva with dread and fear, LEST THE SAME PUNISHMENT COME UPON THEM.”

      So, Rabbi Twerski has support from both Rambam and Ran that Hashem punishes people for their aveyros by inflicting upon them disasters of nature. (Hardly “drivel” as you labeled it). Finis

    40. For me, this is the key passage: “Just as we do not fault G-d when an innocent person is killed by a reckless driver, we should not fault G-d when innocent people, victims of hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and tsunami, suffer from the reckless behavior of those who violate the Natural Law.”

      I am perfectly willing to accept that we should analyze natural disasters the same way we do man-made tragedies. If we accept man-made tragedies, we should accept natural disasters, on the theory that they are both equally the results of natural law in action.

      But is it in fact the case that we have no questions when an innocent person is killed by a reckless driver? Don’t we wonder why Hashem lets that happen? If we insist that He controls all, in the most literal sense, that even the workings of natural law are subject to His intervention (why else do we say Tehillim for a choleh?), then shouldn’t we ask why accidents happen?

      I understand the logic of equating accidents to natural disasters, but I still haven’t figured out how to reconcile accidents in the first place.

    41. As I re-read Twerski’s article many times, plus the anti-Twerski comments here, I find the offensiveness of the comments not just extreme, but utterly ignorant and stupid. Virtually everything in the article is founded on solid grounds of Torah hashkafah. How dare you commenters suggest that hashgochas Hashem is not behind “natural law”! That is the kefira of which you accuse him. He never said that. He stated just that HKBH’s system of natural law explains many things that we otherwise do not understand. Yes, Hashem renews the creation daily, as we state clearly in davening. His Divine hashgocho is constant. HKB”H also placed the laws of nature to be the set of rules upon which the world functions. Our vast advances of science have managed to provide us with insight into a fraction of “natural law”. The Torah also contains limitless knowledge and wisdom about the creation and natural law, plus everything else. What is challenging about this? Or are many of the commenters just licking their chops at the baseless accusations against a man who is a major talmid chochom – and you folks think you’re in his league?


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