Rabbi Avi Weinstein

Sandy, Honi Hama’agel, and Me

In Uncategorized on October 29, 2012 at 11:03 pm

One sounds the alarm for every threat to the community, save for excessive rains…

So says the Mishna in Ta’anit, after which the renowned Honi HaMa’agel taunts God into making it rain exactly in accord with his request.  Honi does his job so well that people must evacuate their homes because of the flooding. The people plead for him to shut off the faucet. Honi demurs, and from that refusal, a rabbinic edict follows. Pray for rain to come, but don’t pray for it to stop.

When I was traveling with my family cross country in August, I vividly recall the parched corn fields of Illinois and Missouri. After so many weeks of relentless heat, I wonder if the heartlanders would have welcomed a hurricane that brought the promise of thirty-six hours of blessed rain. Rain that would undoubtedly ravage crops, but fill the “cisterns and reservoirs”.  Maybe it takes a drought to see the blessing of wind swept  rain that inspires awe but brings darkness to the city.

For some inexplicable reason, the strong winds have yet to extinguish the electric sparks of hearth and home. We lose power so often here that this welcome reprieve seems more than fortuitous. The wind is loud, and constant. My New Zealand wife scoffs at this weather, and declares that in Wellington this would be considered merely a windy day. No worry for flying debris in NZ, everything that wasn’t nailed down blew away years ago.

Torah is like water. It nurtures, and it runs to the low places where it is received by the modest and humble. The wind never stops, but sometimes it needs to remind us that it is here, and that it matters. Torah can make peace, but often brings fury like a hurricane. It is possible to care too much, and only after everything dies down does one reflect on what may have been destroyed. Such is the price of passion.

It is nearly one o’clock in the morning. The gleeful meteorologists celebrate these storms like Purim savoring the nuances of low pressure systems. I gratefully write accompanied by Edison’s miracle with nature’s fury in the background.

I’m at peace. .

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