Of Hurricanes and Hatred

This week offers a view into two types of tragedy. Our news is filled with stories of people losing homes, businesses and even their lives due to hurricanes. Sixteen years ago this week, on September 11, 2001, the news was full of stories of many more people losing their lives (the loss of businesses existed but was overshadowed by the magnitude of loss of human life) due to an evil ideology full of hatred.

Scripture pulls no punches in warning us of tragedies that will overwhelm us should we abandon God’s guidance. Many of these are consequences that flow naturally rather than bolts of lightning from Heaven as people focus on the wrong things and stop seeing humanity as created in God’s image.

One section of the Torah, filled with horrifying descriptions of misery, begins with these words:

…if you do not listen to the voice of the Lord your God…
(Deuteronomy 28:15)

The following 52 verses describe how badly life deteriorates when God’s blueprint for social organization, as laid out in the rest of the Bible, is ignored. God’s system regulates both our relationship with Him and with other people. When individual property rights are not protected, poverty ensues.  When the legal system fails to treat both wealthy achievers as well as the destitute fairly, social cohesion collapses.  When concupiscent degeneracy displaces family life, vulgarity overwhelms the culture.

As people turn away from a Heaven-centric vision of life, growing numbers become takers rather than makers. Ordinary citizens lose both the will and the ability to defend themselves against natural disaster, internal predators and external enemies. Within only a few generations, once strong, successful and vibrant societies decline to geopolitical insignificance. Their people suffer in anguish never quite understanding what happened.

The frightening section ends:

God will return you to Egypt in ships…and there you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as slaves and maids but there will be no buyer.
(Deuteronomy 28:68)

Why would the final consequence of living a life of secular decadence be finding ourselves transported back into Egypt by ships?

The Hebrew word for ship, ANiYaH contains the first person pronoun “I” (In Hebrew-ANi). It always implies a journey of significance, either positive or negative.

Common figures of speech like “my voyage of discovery” indicate that crossing an ocean is a natural metaphor for a significant journey.  The most significant ocean crossing in Israel’s history was crossing the Red Sea.  They didn’t have to use boats.  God split the ocean enabling them to walk across on dry land.

We now have enough information to understand Deuteronomy 28:68.

General decadence, decline, and decay are all consequences for a society that abandons God’s blueprint.  The final blow is that people lose the joy of being unique creative individuals and see tragedies as inevitable and expected.  As promised, God leads them along the road of their choice.

Scripture’s Egypt is not just a country from which God took the Israelites during the Exodus.  The Hebrew word for Egypt, M-TZ-R-IM also means narrow, confined, and restricted. Sadly, humans who have abandoned their Godly side often crave that very lack of freedom. They willingly relinquish their God-given destiny in exchange for a (false) promise of assured sustenance and safety even though doing so will forever constrain the limitless potential they once enjoyed.

The final blow is discovering that nobody wants them.  Having sunk into self-indulgent depravity, they have so little value that even as slaves they can find no buyers.

23 thoughts on “Of Hurricanes and Hatred”

  1. Sadly vulgarity is almost normalized now.

    Unfortunately what we are offended by these days are the opinions of others who disagree with us, apparently, despite the lack of thought behind why we hold the opinions that we do.



  2. Rabbi Lapin,

    So the returning to Egypt in ships implies that God is no longer leading them – His Presence no longer accompanies them – no dry land for them to walk on anymore – pretty much “Ichabod” stamped on their forehead. And you said, “They willingly relinquish their God-given destiny in exchange for a (false) promise of assured sustenance and safety even though doing so will forever constrain the limitless potential they once enjoyed” – my preacher has always drawn parallels between false god Baal being “husband” that basically shackles you in bondage away from God,and the New Testament word for world “kosmos”, from “komizo” (not sure if I spelled it right), as being that which purports to carry you away and take care of you, when it in fact does just the opposite (and marries you to a “husband” other than God). Reminds me of the “false promise of assured sustenance and safety” to which you refer. Kind of like choosing to stay in (spiritual) Babylon, even though you know the king of Babylon is going to gouge your eyes out and shackle you as well (if you’re lucky). Terrible exchange, and almost one of the worst things about it is what you said – “their people suffer in anguish never quite understanding what happened.” Thank you for your faithfulness to offer TOOLS that will cause people to UNDERSTAND, and hence point them towards a remedy.

  3. You may recall that the last 10 minutes or so of Vaughan William’s Sym. #1 is written to Walt Whitman’s poetry portrays man’s journey through life with a metaphor of ships on a long and perilous ocean voyage. While Whitman is not in all respects the perfect antidote to the pull towards decadence, the music in this case is greatly inspiring and fits your essay here to a “T.”

  4. You prove time and time again, each week, why everyone really does need a Rabbi.

    Your teachings so open my eyes to scriptures I have read many times but, now read so differently, due to your Jewish Wisdom.

    THANK YOU!!!

  5. This was excellent. I will re-read this many times I’m sure and will pass it on to people I know will read it and ponder its depth. Thank you.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      You’re welcome Timothy
      And I do sincerely hope that you were not subtly accusing me of exhibiting sesquipedalian tendencies.

    1. i remember hearing Grouch Marx joke that he is half Jewish so that he is only allowed to go into the country club pool up to his waist….
      so you 1% Jewish Bob might could put a toe in the shallow section…

      Ps – Teacher thank you for your powerful teaching….. for the truth of your powerful teaching.

  6. Dear Rabbi Lapin,

    I receive so much positive information and spiritual support from your podcasts and publications. Thank you. I hope to hear more on that show’s topic and to learn more of what we can do to work on reversing the trend. Your shows are important contributions, but we need more with a wider reach.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Don-
      Thanks for writing such encouraging words. We do have a policy to edit letters that are either too long, or contain links or references to other products or shows that we haven’t personally vetted and recommended.

  7. Rabbi Daniel,

    Wow! You have set forth the truth of what ails most of Western culture, including many if not most in America, in a few short paragraphs. What is really sad is that the answer is what this season, as we approach the High Holy Days, is all about. We need to examine ourselves and our shortcomings with respect to the Lord Most High and with respect to our neighbor and not only repent but make reparations. I think the word is T’shuvah. We who call ourselves Christians have much to learn from our elder brothers on this. Too many these days call themselves Christians because their families were Christian rather than because they have taken the time to develop a relationship with the Most High through prayer and study of.His Word. Thank you to you and Miss Susan for reaching out to share Jewish wisdom with those who seek more, including an understanding of T’shuvah. Blessings and peace to you and your whole family.

    1. Dear Rabbi;

      It is so interesting that The Word of God links perilous times to the behavior of mankind.

      Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us. I was hungry for a deeper understanding of the Torah and God presented you.

      1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

        Thanks for writing Teena,
        and so happy to hear that you derived value from this Thought Tool. We do have a policy to edit letters that are either too long, contain lengthy quotes or links or references to other products or shows that we haven’t personally vetted and recommended.

    2. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Joyce–
      In Judaism we too have folks who have long abandoned the values of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob but who claim identification on nothing more than the background of their parents. Oh well, God didn’t appoint me gatekeeper so I welcome everyone to the house of learning.

  8. Dear Rabbi Latin, I agree with you 100%. There is sadly, no getting around the very obvious state of our nation. It grieves me, and sends me to my knees. As a Christian, I am so grateful for the Word of God and wonderful people like you to help guide us. May He richly bless you.

  9. As I suspected, 9/11 was just the beginning and sadly many whose lives are crushed in the process then and now don’t deserve it, and then you have Hollywood and the hateful rhetoric and filth that emanates from that place from some who do. I wouldn’t blame you for not publishing this, my thoughts about the matter are not at all pleasant.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Mark-
      fortunately we only have the right to judge one another’s actions not one another’s thoughts. I dare say that many of us would be quickly indicted for many a sin on the basis of our thoughts. Happily only God knows them.

Comments are closed.

Shopping Cart