“But Hashem cast a mighty wind upon the sea, and such a great tempest came upon the sea that the ship was in danger of breaking up.” Jonah 1:3 (The Israel Bible™)
Following Hurricane Irma, the most powerful hurricane ever recorded over the Atlantic which stretched 650 miles from east to west, pummeled nine states, rampaged through the Caribbean and darkened and flooded millions of Florida homes and roads, many are recognizing this “natural disaster” as an act of God.
In fact, a Hebrew analysis of the writings of the holy 16th century mystic Rabbi Isaac Luria Ashkenazi, known as the Arizal, reveals that the scholar predicted Irma would come as a result of man turning away from God’s dictates.
The Arizal taught that there are four elements which were used to make up the creation of the world:
Fire – אש-aish
Air – רוח-ruach
Water – מים-mayim
Earth – אדמה-adama
“One way to learn the hidden secrets of the Bible and the Hebrew language is by taking the first letter of each word in a phrase or with regards to a particular concept and finding that it spells out something from which to reap deeper insights,” explained Roni Segal, academic adviser for The Israel Institute of Biblical Studies, a company which teaches Hebrew language and Biblical studies online, to Breaking Israel News.
“This is called ‘roshei teyvot–ראשי תיבות’ and is one of the accepted tools for Bible study. When taking the roshei teyvot of the four elements, as noted by the Arizal, they spell out ‘Irma’ – ארמה.”
The Arizal, along with several other respected rabbis, explained that when man turns his back on Biblical dictates and his behavior becomes corrupt, the elements which make up the earth follow suit. God communicates to man, through the elements, that he must change his ways and come back to Him.
Biblically, it is telling that Hurricane Irma struck in the Hebrew month of Elul-אלול along with Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Jose, Hurricane Katia, a disastrous earthquake in Mexico, and raging fires in California. Traditionally Elul, which began on August 23, is the last month of the Jewish calendar and is the most appropriate time to take an accounting of one’s actions of the past year and repent before Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, which falls this year on September 21.
The 18th century Rabbi Chaim ben Moshe ibn Attar and the 19th century Rabbi Moses Schreiber both taught that when the arrival of the Messiah is imminent, calamities will happen, one after the other, in rapid succession, in order to stimulate people to repent and come back to following God’s laws.
“When disasters strike, we all pray that the people affected are safe and that their possessions are protected,” continued Segal. “It is interesting to note that there are specific Hebrew blessings we make on hurricanes, powerful winds, and other phenomena of nature, in order to express our recognition and wonder at God’s power and His ruling over nature itself.”
The blessings are also said when one sees a shooting star or comet, or experiences an earthquake, volcano, lightning and thunder as a way to declare that God rules nature.
Blessing on comets, shooting stars, meteor showers, earthquakes, and strong winds:
Baruch Ata Adonoy Eloheinu Melech haolam, osay ma’asei bereisheet.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעולָם עשֶׂה מַעֲשֵׂה בְּרֵאשִׁית
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Maker of the works of creation.
Blessing on thunder and lightning:
Baruch Ata Adonoy Eloheinu Melech haolam, shekocho oo-gevurato malay olam.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעולָם שֶׁכּחו וּגְבוּרָתו מָלֵא עולָם
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, whose power and might fill the world.
Rabbi Yonatan Neril, who has a BA and MA from Stanford University with a focus on global environmental issues, notes in Huffington Post that the leading 20th century mystic Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi Ashlag wrote, “God established the laws of nature in the world, and a person or society that transgresses one of these laws will be punished through nature. He likens nature to a judge that God created to punish those who violate the laws of nature.”
Rabbi Neril writes about himself, “This mess is an opportunity. Call me an apocaloptimist. I believe we are headed for a period of time when our spiritual awareness and physical living on this planet will be elevated. We will live at a higher level of soul awareness. For that to happen, we need to listen to what Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Katia are saying as messengers of God’s creation, planet earth. Something is out of balance in the way we are living, and the need to change is hitting us in the face.”
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