22 Iyar 5779 / Monday, May 27, 2019 | Torah Reading: Bamidbar
 
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HomeSocietyCurrent AffairsHurricane Harvey, Hurricane Hope
 
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Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Hope    

Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Hope



It's remarkable what a tragedy can do. It can unite like nothing else as most of us can testify. Think of a family emergency. All the petty politics are forgotten...

 



“Ooh the flood is threatening

My very life today

If I don't get some shelter

Yeah, I'm gonna fade away

War, children, it's just a shot away...”

-Rolling Stones

 

That song came on the radio yesterday as I was working out. I thought the timing was awesome.

 

Several weeks ago, I stayed up watching rescues of people overcome by Hurricane Harvey. It was a sight to behold. Old, young, black, white, Jewish, Gentile, Spanish, Indian, rich and poor… Hurricane Harvey was the great equalizer.

 

One man known as Mattress Mac opened his humongous furniture store for hundreds of people, including the military. I watched as shivering and traumatized families entered the showroom in dripping blankets holding shell shocked children and quivering pets. They lay down on beautiful beds worth thousands of dollars.

 

I watched as a helicopter crew rescued a family by lowering a basket four times until everyone was up, including the dog. People formed a human chain to get an old man out of his sinking truck and one woman swam out to rescue another woman who was so panicked she couldn't climb out of her car alone.

 

It's remarkable what a tragedy can do. It can unite like nothing else as most of us can testify. Think of a family emergency. All the petty politics are forgotten and everyone comes together. Harvey arrived like a powerful slap in the face to a nation hysterical with stupidity and physically warring over ridiculous issues like gender-friendly bathrooms and historical statues.

 

Suddenly people are humbled, brought to the unfathomable situation of a human being facing the wrath of God. Thousands of people needing someone/anyone to save them from disaster. Floods have a primal feel to them. Deep down in the soul of every person lurks the recognition that if Hashem wants to He can drown the entire world.

 

Over and over in the live interviews, people said the same thing: “Race, color, religion, politics...nothing matters now except people helping people.”

 

As the rest of America watches, the “evil” police force works round the clock saving hurricane victims, one officer even dying in the process. I can't help but wonder where all that “police brutality” went.

 

Big men sporting long hair and tattoos carry elderly people to safety, mosques and synagogues act as shelters and the civil war that has been threatening the country seems to melt in the water like the wicked witch of the east.

 

One black woman kept praising “the Spanish family” that saved her. An army vet carried an old Muslim woman, which made an odd and interesting picture.

 

Naturally there will be criminals and con-men abound. Every crisis is complete with vultures waiting to cash in and the looting has already begun. Security is high in the refuge centers and a curfew has been imposed in the city after dark. Homes and stores are being burglarized.

 

But the main story is the revelation of heroes within the midst of what was recently a society gone mad. An image emerges of a nation coming together in strength and mercy, with no tangible reward for a job well done. It is kindness personified.

 

Why oh why does it take a tragedy to bring out the best in people? The unity among us here in Israel, during the kidnapping of the three boys, was electrifying. All the infighting among us was shoved to the side and replaced with fervent prayer from one big family.

 

Which is what we are - God's children, everyone. And bickering bitterly for no good reason is so self-destructive it defies logic.

 

And that is why it takes a supernatural act from Hashem to shock everyone into brotherhood. People need reminding of how good they can be. How much alike they are and how desperately they want to live.

 

So far there have been 23 deaths reported but that is still only an estimate. There are many people missing. Still hundreds of houses immersed.

 

It's like one big mikveh cleansing everyone of their misdirected compassion and their ridiculous pride. It may have come in time to stop a civil war.

 

The High Holy Days are here. And the Yom Kippur prayer cries out, ”Who will live and who will die...who by fire and who by water, who by thirst and who by storm...”

 

It's scary to watch the devastation a hurricane can cause. To see highways submerged and to know that there is sewage in the water, live wires and snakes. People have lost everything they ever owned - homes, cars, businesses and life savings.

 

There are so many ways to get hurt, so many ways to die.

 

“...who will rest and who will wander, who will be enriched and who impoverished...”

 

“...who will be degraded and who will be exalted?”

 

In my opinion that last one might be up to us.

 

 

* * *

Rebbitzen Yehudit Channen began her career as a Crisis Intervention Counselor in Silver Spring, Md. in the seventies. After moving to Israel, she worked as a marital mediator and social skills instructor for kids. Following the death of a son, Rebbitzen Channen became a certified bereavement counselor and worked with young mothers who had suffered loss. Most recently she worked at the Melabev Center for the memory-impaired, as an activity director and group facilitator for families coping with Dementia.  The Rebbitzen has written for numerous magazines and newspapers and recently led an interactive creative writing course called Connective Writing. Yehudit Channen is the wife of Rabbi Don Channen, Rosh Yeshiva of Keter HaTorah.  They are blessed to have nine children and many grandchildren and live in Ramat Beit Shemesh. Today, Rebbitzen Yehudit Channen is a certified Emuna Therapist for Breslev Israel. You can set up an appointment with her by contacting staff@breslev.co.il





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