By Rav Shmuel Brazil
When cataclysmic occurrences happen in the world the Yid must take careful note and do teshuvah. When they happen back to back then taking note is insufficient. We need to speedily make changes in our lives for time is of essence. What transpired in Japan is just mind boggling. First they experienced a deadly earthquake, then a massive destructive tsunami, followed by a nuclear disaster and contaminative fall out, climaxing with volcanic eruptions. Each one of these catastrophes by itself would have been enough to send a message to Am Yisrael. How much more so when compounded like this! If you are not thinking and doing teshuva you must be living on another planet for there cannot be any other excuse for one’s procrastination. Let us see if we can help the teshuva process along with an explanation of these current incredible devastations.
There are four elements in creation: fire, wind, water and earth אש רוח מים עפר . Although these elements take on physical dimensions, their source is very high with spiritual roots. The sefarim explain that the gematriah of אש רוח מים עפר is identical to the four angels מיכאל גבריאל רפאל נוריאל. These four elements are rooted in the four letters of Hashem’s name. Adam Harishon when he ate from the Aitz Hadaas lowered the spiritual level and dimensions of these four elements causing to evolve from each one the four exiles as explained in detail in the Shem Mishmuel Teruma 76.
These four elementsl might seem for a while a fixed component of nature. However, our emunah is that they are all being constantly controlled by Hashem and can be altered at any given moment. When Hashem makes war He can utilize all of these elements to do His will and command. This is hinted in the passuk איש מלחמה ה’ the word איש is gematriah 311 which is the same gematriah as the first letter of each of the four elements ארמע. What we have witnessed in the last few days is the fulfillment Hashem eesh milchama. First an earthquake which corresponds to the element of earth, then a tsunami which parallels the water element, then a meltdown whose radiation is carried by the wind and finally a volcanic eruption which corresponds to fire.. Hashem’s revenge on the Japanese people, whether because they were allies with the Nazis in WW2 or because they incarcerated and cruelly treated three innocent Yiddishe neshamos whose innocence is clear to all except for their kangaroo court, was all enveloping utilizing all the elements to demonstrate His decisive omnipotence. No man made advanced technology could stop or even slow the earthquake, tsunami, nuclear meltdown and volcano. Everyone stood helpless, stunned and paralyzed as Hashem with one swift blow used His elements to demonstrate as He did to Pharaoh in Mitzrayim that in merely seconds what seems to be one’s reality is no longer. One’s past present and future literally went down the drain in seconds right in front of one’s eyes.
If you saw any of the videos of just the tsunami alone, one would be awestruck as everything appeared so make believe as mere toy houses, cars and boats being tossed and swirling in a muddy bathtub and then totally disappearing from sight. Unfortunately the devastation, every part of it, was real leaving in its path despair, hopelessness, grief, irreparable damage and loss. The 9.0 magnitude quake also shifted Eastern Japan towards North America by about 13 feet. Thirteen is gematriah echad referrring to Hashem who is the one and only. His signature and seal were imprinted on these cataclysmic events.
Every action must pass through a judgment. Shlomo Hamelech says in Koheles כי את כל מעשה האלקים יבא במשפט על כל נעלם אם טוב ואם רע . Even deeds that only Hashem knows the doer’s intentions also pass before a judgment. If for good then there will be reward. If for bad then there will be punishment and retribution using the four elements. This is hinted in the words of the passuk אם רע which is the acronym of the four elements אש מים רוח עפר . Forget about the world waking up and learning the lesson that Hashem is sending them. More is expected from Klal Yisrael who must wake up and pay close attention to this ongoing ” mussar shiur” of Hashem. At this point of time we must ascertain that we channel our fears to the One who is causing them – Hashem. What a tragic and wasted opportunity to have presently a misplaced fear like this following article posted: “While Japan continues to deal with the aftermath of last Friday’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, and has yet to recover from one of the greatest disasters in its history, Israelis fear a shortage in the ingredients of one of their favorite dishes: Sushi.”
As we read this Shabbos parshas Zachor, the Torah describes them as ולא ירא אלקים they did not fear Hashem. They heard of Hashem’s manipulation of nature in the ten plagues followed by the splitting of the Red Sea and they remained unaffected. It is therefore that they received the eternal punishment of total annihilation. Yisrael because they were ירא אלקים were able to defeat the לא ירא אלקים. In the aftermath of these disasters everyone must honestly ask himself to which camp does he fall into.
Each of the four elements symbolizes a galus,. The horrific destruction brought on by these four elements symbolizes a vicarious undergoing of all four destructive exiles. Daily we witness the kingdoms of the Middle East toppling one after another. Moshiach is past being on his way. He is here standing at our doorstep. The only question is are we going to let him in now. That door of entry is the door of teshuva. Don’t let us wait even another second. Last week we have seen that it only takes one second for one’s realities to completely disappear.