Today’s Earthquake and the Talmud Yerushalmi


nyc-taxi-roadsFollowing today’s earthquake in Virginia that was felt around the tri-state area, some have focused on a Gemara in the Talmud Yerushalmi that links deviant behavior with earthquakes. As has been widely reported, New York recently passed a law rendering same-gender marriage to be legal and lawful in the state.

 Were today’s tremors a mere “conincidence” or a message from on High regarding the prevalence of behavior termed by the Torah to be “toeivah“?

We don’t have the chochmah to answer that question with certainty, but we can take a look at the aforementioned Yerushalmi.

The Yerushalmi in Brachos (9:2) states that earthquakes are caused by one of a number of forms of conduct that anger the Ribono Shel Olam.

It should be noted that the Yerushalmi actually offers several other reasons for the onset of an earthquake. For example, Eliyahu Hanovi, the Yerushalmi says, asked Rav Nehorai, “Why do earthquakes occur?” Rav Nehorai said, “On account of the sins of those who do not separate…maaser from their produce.”

Following an analysis of why failing to take maaser carries such severity, the Yerushalmi states, “Rav Acha said, ‘[The earth quakes] on account of the sin of [toeivah]. Hashem said, ‘You [engaged] in an unnatural act. By your life, I shall shake the earth on account of the act of this person.'”

The Yerushalmi then relates that the Chachomim said that “[The earth shakes] on account of disputes,” and Rav Shmuel said, “An earthquake is a sign of the cessation of kingship.”

The statement of Rav Acha correlating deviant behavior with earthquakes is the one that people will ponder.

May we merit to see the geulah soon, with the Kingship of the Ribono Shel Olam and the eternal truth of His Torah recognized across His world.

{Noam Newscenter}


  1. I suppose New Zealand and the Dominican Republic also passed same gender marriage laws shortly before their devastating quakes . . . . You know what they say about a little knowledge and no intelligence . . .

  2. Perhaps we should stop worrying about what we can not control (other people), and start worrying about what we can control (ourselves).

    I myself used this as a chance to brush up on the halachos of what bracha to make on an earthquake.

  3. You write that the Yerushalmi states that earthquakes happen on account of disputes – perhaps all the children and children-in-law of people who are fighting and bringing a cessation to Kingship are responsible for the earthquake. Time to look inward and stop blaming others!

  4. To all you critics:

    Were today’s tremors a mere “conincidence” or a message from on High regarding the prevalence of behavior termed by the Torah to be “toeivah“?

    We don’t have the chochmah to answer that question with certainty, but we can take a look at the aforementioned Yerushalmi.

  5. Yankel,

    Virginia probably follows along with the toeiva abomination and also to allow for bechira.


    It doesn’t say it’s the only cause. However, the shoe fits nicely here so let’s wear it.


    It’s probably a warning.


    Why are you looking for excuses? This fits very nicely with recent events in NY.

  6. TO #2 RSRH –
    There are people who say that the earthquakes here in New Zealand occurred because of the banning of Shechita.

  7. Or it could be that when Rav Shmuel said, “An earthquake is a sign of the cessation of kingship.”….it could mean that America/Obama is losing their prestige in the eyes of the world (Washington DC is not far from the epicenter of the quake)

  8. If you are a good Jew you would know of the Eleventh Article of Faith.

    “G-d will reward the good and punish the wicked.”

    So if you know this you will think about the relationship between individual and collective guilt and what role tzaddiks play in the grand scheme of things.

    Interesting discussion. Not enough space here.
    I can tell everyone however that without any shadow of a doubt G-d does send warning signs. Some people are more attuned to the zeitgeist and can smell the wind better than others.

  9. It is exactly thirty days that the marriage law took into effect. The mabul too started with gentle rain so that people wake up to tsuvah. This was just the beginning. G-d runs the world.

  10. start teshuva now & we will not need these shaking wake-up calls coming from Hashem

    DON’T WAIT UNTIL AFTER TRAGEDY STRIKES C”V we have seen enough already, BUT is anyone ready to confess to hashem & do teshuva? when in reality we all need to do teshuva

    BOTTOM LINE:we leave hashem with no choice but to do these tragic events…

  11. Hashem gives advance warnings / wake-up calls, first in far-off places.

    If Teshuva is not done, C”V, then the warnings begin to strike closer to home.

    IY”H may Teshuva be done B’Mehayra, so that the warnings don’t have to get stronger, C”V.

  12. Unfortunately, people see what they call “natural disasters” as only part of nature and don’t realize that they’re wake-up calls from Hashem to do Teshuva.

  13. In truth we are culpable in that we did not stand ups against the “marriage” bill. My husband, my mother and I went to a rally against it and Jews had an embarrassingly small representation. The bill is past now but we can still pray! Remember Sodom would have been saved with 10 righteous individuals, lets try to be among those 10!


  14. The article makes total sense. If you think calculus formulas are complex, which some people do understand, the exact details (formula) of any event, are unfathomable to us, even though we can get the idea.

  15. The gemara is on the mishna perek 9 mishna 2. Actually daf 89 omud aleph. How about everyone learning that page as a zechus for all the recent troubles.

  16. #11, just in case you arent kidding.
    A) Virginia does NOT allow toeiva marriage
    B) Theres still plenty of room for bechirawhen a earthquake occurs over a month after the law is passed.
    C) To date in 2011 thwere have been 1,849 earthquakes over 5.0 (thank yopu wikipedia) Are you ready to link them all to toeiva marriage?
    If you went to take a message from the earthquake thats great!, but dont advertize ridiculous nonsense

  17. Those who read this website should be the ones fully aware that as soon as a certain law was enacted about a month ago, it would bring some kind of warning, such as an earthquake. I knew immediately something had to happen. The epicenter was where it was, close to D.C. makes sense also. We are now in the ikveisa d’mishicha and we need to realize that Hashem is speaking to us more openly with each passing day. The whole world realizes that something is afoot, but they think it’s natural for these geo-climate occurrences and are just part of nature. We know better. We better step up and do tshuvah and we need achdut; and the world needs to take these warnings seriously.

  18. The earthquake on Tuesday was just the beginning of the warnings that HaShem is giving the world. On Wendesday, Matzav (at reported that there is a strong probability of heavy aftershocks happening. On Wendesday, there was a very strong earthquake in the country of Peru in South America. Boruch HaShem though, it did not cause any injuries or damages. See a report of it at

  19. There are earthquakes all the time. They are part of nature and mean nothing other than that they happen. The narcissistic Brooklynites who think the world revolves around them pull out their narishe gematriyos to “prove” that God cares about Boro Park more than any other part of the world. Pathetic.

  20. @ #28, exactly, I was just about to say the same thing. New York was the 6th state (not including DC who approved toeiva marriages in Dec 2009) and yet the earthquake that occurred hundred of miles away is because of them?
    HaShem has reasoning behind everything He does. I don’t doubt that earthquakes are warnings, just as the Gemara said. But linking this earthquake to something that happened in New York a month ago is narcissistic, egotistical and probably an un-Frum thought.

  21. To Comment #28 from “shlomo zalman”:

    Mr. Shlomo Zalman, the words: “There are earthquakes all the time. They are part of nature and mean nothing other than that they happen,” very unfortunately border on K’fira! They border on unrealization of G-D’s directionship of the world.

    Of course, there is a natural order to the mechanical workings of the physical world. But IT IS G-D WHO IS MAKING THIS NATURAL ORDER!! IT IS G-D WHO IS MAKING ALL THESE NATURAL PHYSICAL THINGS HAPPEN!!

    Furthermore, G-D has A REASON for every single physical thing that He makes happen. Whether it is the wind blowing on a blade of grass in the fields of Kansas, a polar bear walking on a sheet of ice in the Arctic Ocean, or a vine growing on a tree in the jungle of the Amazon River Basin, G-D has a reason for each one!

    Especially when there is a very big earthquake, like there was this year in Japan, or when there is is an earthquake in a region that rarely has earthquakes, like there was this week in the Eastern US, G-D is certainly doing it for us to take serious note of it.

    “Elokim Asa Sheyiru Mipanav” – “G-D does it so that they will have awe of Him” is a verse from the Biblical Book of Proverbs.

  22. Jack at #14 sounds the most convincing; a sign of the collapse of the Kingdom of Edom. The earthquake damage could not have been more pointed: at the pyramid atop the obelisk that marks the power of America, and central to the layout of the city of Washington, the power centre of America and the West.
    The fallen pinnacles at Washington National Cathedral is also no coincidnece. It represents the collapse of the might of the national church, Edom’s nest, the highest pinnacle from which Hashem will drag it down.

  23. (correction on my previous comment #30)

    The Biblical verse I referred to: “Elokim Asa Sheyiru Mipanav” – “G-D does it so that they will have awe of Him,” is in Sefer Koheles – the Book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, verse 14.

  24. To Comment #29 from “A BACHUR”:

    We cannot even begin to know and understand all of the details of all of the reasons for why G-D does things in certain ways. The Talmud Yerushalmi states that one of the reasons for earthquakes is because of the Toeiva thing. Now we know that the Talmud Yerushalmi, like all parts of the Torah Sheba’al Peh, is the transmission of the Word of G-D. So we really have here a statement from G-D Himself, where He tells us that one of the reasons why He makes earthquakes is because of people doing Toeiva.

    Now, not too long before this earthquake in the Eastern US, the severely wicked led government of the State of New York made its legislation to officially sanction Toeiva marriage. That is certainly part of the picture. The question though is, why did the quake happen over in Virginia? Why didn’t it happen in New York?

    Well, as I just noted, while G-D does reveal some reasons to us, we still cannot know and understand ALL OF THE DETAILS of these reasons.

    A few guesses that, B’Ezras HaShem, we could make about this detail (about why Virginia) are:

    The location in Virginia was quite close to the national capital of Washington, DC. That fact may have two implications:

    1.) (As you pointed out) about two years ago in 2009, the city of Washington made its own pro-Toeiva marriage law. Besides the terrible wickedness of that for the Washington city itself, that Toeiva marriage success certainly gave an example and encouragement to the pro-Toeiva activists in New York State. The fact may even be that some of the pro-Toeiva activists from the Washington job actually GAVE ADVICE to the activists in New York on how they won!

    2.) We must realize that (as the case is with almost all activist projects, both good ones and bad ones) the ultimate goal of the Toeiva thingy is not just to get their agenda approved by all the individual states of the country. Rather, their goal is to get the approval OF THE (National) FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. In other words, they want that the full pro-Toeiva philosophy should become the established official law of the whole nation!

    So the earthquake pointing at the national capital is quite significant.


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