However, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the destruction in the Caribbean while reading last week’s Haftarah (Yeshayahu/Isaiah 60:1-22) for Parshat Ki Tavo.
Verse 60:2 reads:
Arafel in Modern Hebrew refers to “fog,” which is dense cloudiness. I seem to remember arafel meaning a thick gloomy cloud in Tanach.
Malbim describes a le’um (plural: le’umim) specifically as a group united by the same religion or belief system.
(In contrast, Malbim explains that Am, which is also translated as “nation” refers to a group of people living under a common government; they don’t necessarily share the same belief system or religion.)
Hurricane Irma didn’t necessarily make things dark in the Caribbean, but it did obstruct the Sun to some extent. Certainly, there was massive clouding with a hurricane that more than covered entire islands.
And while the Caribbean is populated by different religions, there is a strain of voodoo and other occultic witchrafty belief systems running through that part of the world. I mean, the area is known for that. And people can go to church, but also practice this stuff on the side. Of course Western Christians oppose voodoo stuff, but in places where the original belief system was occultic (like Africa and the Caribbean), many of proclaiming to be Christian do incorporate occultic elements into their Christian belief system.
The other thing popular in that part of the world is licentious behavior. In fact, there is a brand of Caribbean tourism which specifically caters to this.
Furthermore, what Hashem has done in the past century is introduce the Tanach to non-Jews around the world in every language. Yes, it was often introduced through Christian missionaries. But the point is that a great many people have been able to read the Tanach in their own language. While a tremendous amount is lost through translation, you can still get the gist that there is only One God and He hates witchcraft and occultism and idol worship and licentious behavior.
You can also get a sense of the consequences that await people (Jewish or not) who choose to run after that which God hates and has forbidden.
Furthermore, Chabad has been active in the Caribbean and Chabad promotes Noachide Laws to the non-Jews in whatever area they are found. I’ve even seen Chabad trailers with the Seven Noachide Laws printed from top to bottom. I don’t know if Chabad goes around with those vehicles in the Caribbean specifically, but my point is that Chabad promotes these values for all to see and hear.
And Hashem is very, very patient. He gives people so much time, even generations, to take the tiniest baby-steps toward the Truth.
Yet spiritual physics are what they are. At some point the measure fills up and the consequences spill over.
Verse 9 continues:
“For to Me, the islands will hope…”
The kind of hope mentioned (yikavu) is the root of the word tikvah.
Malbim defines tikvah as “expects something unclear, but hopes it’s good.”
What better describes the hope of those islanders before or during last week’s hurricane?
Needles to say, I am truly sorry for the human suffering, for the people who died in slow terror of roaring winds and rushing ocean waters, and for the innocent babies and Jews and Noachides who suffered destruction because of the society surrounding them.
But I didn’t invent these spiritual physics.
Hashem exhorts us repeatedly for generations regarding the behavior He expects of us.
I’m just reporting on what He says and what we’re seeing.
May we all return to the One True Creator with love and emuna.
The Malbim (1809-1879) was Rabbi Meir Leibush ben Yechiel Michel who was born in Russia and served as rav all over Eastern Europe. He was bitterly fought by the Reform Movement for most of his adult life, even suffering a brief imprisonment on a false accusation in Rumania by wealthy German Reformers. Fortunately, he left us an amazing commentary on the entire Torah among other valuable works he composed.