Ten years ago this week was an event that changed countless lives. I myself grew up on the Coast, and although, thank G-d, my family was safe during the storm, we did lose our home and countless possessions. The tangible reminders of untold memories were reduced to concrete slabs and staircases leading nowhere. When I think about those days now, or try to explain them to others, I realize they were an experience completely foreign to someone who wasn’t there firsthand. As much as I might describe generators, MREs, shelters, four hour lines for gasoline, I cannot convey the feeling of the excruciating loss of routine, the disappearance of childhood haunts and the feeling that one’s life has been forever altered by events utterly out of your hands.
There is a famous Midrash that describes Abraham discovering the existence of G-d. While wandering in a desert, he happens upon a beautiful palace, being consumed by an untamed fire! Upon not seeing anyone rushing to put out the fire, or even and the building’s care taker, Abraham yells out in disbelief, “Could it be that this palace has no owner!?” Suddenly, from inside a window in the burning building, the owner peers out and says, “I am the owner of this place.” Similarly Abraham realized the same is true of our world. Of course there is an owner.
But why was the palace burning? The former Chief Rabbi of England Jonathan Sacks, explains this Midrash in a beautiful way. Avraham looked at the world, and saw a world on fire. Evil, sickness, death, injustice, the world seemed to be in a state of utter turmoil! So he wondered, “Can it be that no one is taking care of this chaotic world? Is it left to burn uncontrollably?!”
When hearing this question, G-d “peers through the window”, and assures us that the world does indeed have an owner, who loves and takes care of it. True, we look around and see destruction, sometimes which defies our logic. But we must realize that the Owner is waiting for us to help put out the fire. G-d wants us to know that even amidst the negativity in our world, He is there. And He is waiting for us to pick up a bucket of water, a shovel, pen, or whatever other tools we may have, and help him put out the fire.
The High Holidays are almost here! Please take a look at our schedule below, and join us for one of our exciting events! Look out in your mailboxes this week for Chabad’s High Holiday Guide and schedule.
May you be inscribed and sealed for a Good Year. K’siva v’Chasima Tovah.
Rabbi Akiva Hall