And most people (including me) struggle to maintain the balance between normal derech-hateva understanding & efforts versus maintaining a solid knowledge that Hashem is orchestrating everything down to the tiniest detail.
That's normal. But it's a paradox and not an easy one to live in (which is a massive part of our job here in This World).
Furthermore, all the different analyzations about a variety of subjects available today with finely tuned theories (which often include profound bias—or undergo adjustment to fit political correctness) often seem intriguing.
It's easy to get caught up in all the debate & analysis surrounding a hot topic or an intriguing phenomenon.
I have the same tendency, of course. So I try to rein it in as much as I can.
But over the years, I discovered that listening to our real Torah Sages and their conclusions help one arrive at the truth much faster—and putting it all together under a Torah lens proves even more intriguing than a sound-clip-oriented TV debate or the flaming back-and-forth in a forum or comment section.
A Brief Look at Winter in Texas throughout the Century
Shockingly cold weather hit Texas.
First of all, most people don't know that the state of Texas is huge:
268,596 square miles/695,662 square kilometers
The entire United Kingdom could fit into Texas.
Or the Netherlands, Slovenia, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Macedonia, Luxembourg and Hungary could easily move into Texas together.
Some Texas ranchers own property reaching over 400 square miles.
So when we're talking about a polar vortex covering Texas, we're talking about something massive.
Climate-wise, most of Texas is hot-subtropical. The next biggest climates are hot semi-arid, cold semi-arid—with pockets registering as hot or cold deserts.
A friend who grew up in Texas recalled going outside in summer clothes when it snowed in the winter.
The air was so hot, the snow melted on its way down. It never made it to the ground.
I never heard of such a thing. She said they watched the snow come down, then melt in midair.
That's a snow day in Texas.
In fact, most of Texas sees less than an inch of snow per year.
On the other hand, Texas gets hit with blizzards—but not over the ENTIRE state.
Northwest Texas got hit with 10-20 inches of snow in 1957, which killed off 20% of the local cattle population & defeated snow plows.
A 1985 January storm left San Antonio covered in over a foot of snow—the worst San Antonio had seen in 100 years (must be all that global warming!).
West Texas caught one of the worst blizzards in its history in 2017 (dang that global warming again...) with 8-foot snow drifts & 50 mph winds.
Houston's 2 biggest snowfalls hit in 1899 (20 inches) and 1960 (over 4 inches).
In 2018, the North American Ice Storm hit Northwestern Texas in a 1000-mile rampage.
But none of these caused anywhere near the damage & suffering Texans faced as a whole in February 2021.
Results of the Cold Disaster in Texas
Pipes burst or froze & the power grid failed, leading to millions of people stranded at home in freezing conditions without heat, electricity, or water.
(Even people with generators didn't necessarily have heat because key components froze.)
One house burned to the ground while the firemen watched because their equipment could not operate under the conditions.
Around 70 people died.
Texas lost over half its grapefruit crop and 100% of its orange crop.
Burst pipes resulted in the loss of 325 million gallons of water.
Overall damage resulted in estimates of 195 billion dollars.
Some Texans are receiving utility bills charging them tens of thousands of dollars—even when they didn't have power.
Texan pipes aren't made for such freezing conditions and many Texans blame their politicians because even though extreme cold rarely hits Texas, it still happens.
(Although when has such extreme cold hit most of Texas for such an extended period of time—10 days?)
I think the infrastructure could have been better prepared. Texas authorities also gave terrible advice by telling people not to drip their pipes, which would've helped prevent their bursting—maybe.
But even if Texas had been prepared for its rare short-lived snow storms, does that mean it would've been prepared enough for this one?
Despite cold weather hitting Texas periodically, it was only this severe storm that broke the water pipe in a northeastern building—a pipe that managed to survive since 1924.
While the Texas government must do its best to benefit its citizens, focusing solely on prepping & water pipes misses the big picture.
Winterized Infrastructure Would Have Helped, But Not Completely Prevented the Problems—Why?
Even if hot & dry Texas installed the kind of pipes used in North Dakota's frigid blizzards, a fiercer storm could still overwhelm that.
Such a bizarre weather anomaly should make us sit up & pay attention.
It reminds me very much of Dor HaMabul (Generation of the Flood).
Prior to the global Mabul, Hashem sent repeated warnings in the form of natural disasters: earthquakes, local flooding, constant thunder & lightening...He even caused the Sun to rise in the West rather than the East when Metushelach passed away (Me'am Lo'ez, Parshat Noach).
See more here: http://www.myrtlerising.com/blog/the-generation-of-the-flood-has-reincarnated-into-our-generation-heres-the-evidence-also-what-you-can-do-to-protect-yourself-others
I don't know why davka Texas got hit with such extreme cold weather. It could be connected to a certain gashmiut, like how America's oil mainstay exists in Texas.
Or something else entirely.
But several points stick out:
- Such an extreme cold weather attack flies in the face of the global warming theory—a theory policy-makers use to extort money (carbon taxes, etc.) from citizens & invent useless programs (for both money & to gain or stay in power).
Yes, I realize part of the global warming theory contorts itself to make it seem like global warming ironically leads to global cooling. But anyone with common sense can see that such cold extremes deny global warming.
- Even those prepared found themselves in dire straights when their preps failed them—like their generator.
Even those with enough food found themselves battling freezing temperatures with no way to even warm a can of beans or water for tea.
People with wood stoves didn't have enough wood prepared for this magnitude or couldn't always access the wood.
As noted by president of the Texas Farm Bureau, a dairy farmer himself for 40 years: "It's hard to prepare for what you've never lived in." (source)
His entire life, he never saw a weather event like this in South Texas.
And he was prepared! He needed to be because of his livestock.
So despite previous cold weather events, there was never any reason to prepare for a cold weather attack of this magnitude, especially in South Texas.
Yet discussions abound on how Texas can "combat climate change" and how to better winterize Texas infrastructure, plus which politicians to blame.
All that totally misses the point.
Dor HaMabul attributed their natural disasters to mundane reasons.
And so does today's generation.
The Information Superhighway Will Remain Open until the End
(Please note that some of Rav Schwartz's students made transcripts of his original Hebrew lectures, then translated them into English, and one posted them on a website independently of Rav Schwartz. That's how I access his material.)
He claimed that the nisayon of the media/Internet would last until Mashiach.
That struck me because it flew in the face of the sensible-sounding predictions made in society, like, "There won't be any CNN around to film the End of the World."
Or, "The End of the World will not be recorded."
Or Einstein's: “I know not with what weapons World War 3 will be fought, but World War 4 will be fought with sticks and stones."
In other words, technology will be busted. Of course! How could it not?
But Rav Shwartz, with his Torah-knowledgable spiritually attuned point of view, said (page 10):
When the media will disappear, Moshiach will come.
But until Moshiach comes, the innermost level of the shaar hanun d’tumah [50th level of spiritual impurity/blockage] dominates in the world and it contains a mixture of kedushah [holiness] and tumah [spiritual impurity/blockage], from the highest level of kedushah all the way down to the lowest level of tumah.
That is why in this generation everything has become mixed and confused together in a disturbing way, which our logic cannot comprehend.
This will not change until the coming of Moshiach.
What will be happen with the media (mass communication)?
This is the last thing which they the media will cut off from. It is from this the media that they live from.
From this, they the media will not cut off!
Hashem will be the One to cut it all off.
Anyway, his idea intrigued me because in trying to imagine an End of the World according to this idea, I found it difficult to imagine, especially in light of what most people (especially American preppers) predict.
Yet we saw exactly Rav Schwartz's insight during the Texas disaster.
During some hours, people lacked power, electricity, heat, water...but they had cell phone service.
They managed to call loved ones & communicate online (send tweets, update Facebook, comment on blogs & forums)...even as they were unable to bathe, cook, heat their home, or any other basic modern function.
Running out of food & water, they still managed to charge the cell phones in their car.
Isn't that weird?
Yet that's exactly what happened.
These are the times in which we live.
Following the True Wisdom as Best You Can
I have access to media (though even the frum media is increasingly disappointing...).
I place a lot of restrictions on my Internet usage, but I'm not perfect about those restrictions and according to Rav Schwartz, I really shouldn't have it at all.
But I still follow him in whatever I can manage because that's how we grow on our own level: by listening to someone who tells us to reach higher, to wiggle at least a little bit out of our comfort zone.
Same thing with Rav Avigdor Miller.
Do you think I manage to uphold every single thing he advises?
But I try to do what I can.
The point here is to listen to the real Torah scholars. The ones who truly work on their middot, who possess real knowledge, who know how to think, and who understand how to analyze current events to offer us their true meaning & genuine wisdom regarding events.
True understanding is found among our own, starting from millennia ago until now.