Wednesday, September 07, 2005


I was particularly impressed with R'Ovadia's recent statements, correlating Katrina with Bush's support of the disengagement. Throw in the racist statements, and it surpasses all inflammatory remarks that he has made in the past.


jacob said...

I wont read reports on the Jewish world from haaretz so I address your post without reading the article.

As to the correlation of major disasters with actions of man, Rav Ovadia is not alone. Rav Shach used to do the same thing. Infact, the history of rabbinic literature do the same thing for the inquisition, the holocaust, etc.

His comments raised a question of fact. Whether or not it is TRUE is a question you are incapable of answering. The most you can say is that it offends your sensibilites as a modern american and goes against everything you believe in. The problem with doing that is that 1. it exposes the root of your sensibilites and from where you derive your values and 2. it puts your beliefs in question.

Zev said...

The second Beit Hamikdash fell because of sinat chinam. This is probably the best known rabbinic prescription correlating personal fault to political events and persecution. While that instance was quite literal, ie the burning of Yerushalaim's grain by the kanaim did directly lead to the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash, we generally use the analogy as a form of musar.

As one of my friends points out, the absurdity that hanging your mezuzah wrong is the cause of all your political and social ills is ridiculous. But in proclaiming as much you refuse to set your political situation on anyone beside yourself and Hashem.

When Rabanim in the Polish Ghettos wrote about why they Holocaust was happening to them they were making a musardic prescriptive statement. R. Ovadya's descriptive blame of Bush, and inadvertently the people of LA and MS, is nun and insulting.

Josh said...

Zev - would you prefer to follow R. Yosef's comments on the Holocaust?

I you forget that ultimately R. Yosef is a politician serving his not insignificant constituency. While many rabbis all over make similarly stupid comments, R. Yosef's get broadcasted more because of his particular position.

Mr. HaLevi said...

Rav Ovadia is dead on in his statement. It is THE classical way of interpreting historical events. You may not like it, but it is very much the Jewish way of undertsanding natural disasters.

how many times over and over and over again are natural disasters in the Tanach said to be the work of God for a specific sin, reason? Hundreds of times. And how many times does God explicitly state this is true? Almost never.

Read Amos for example. The entire point here is that what seems like "mikreh" and can be interpreted as merely coincidence or natural or scientific is in fact the work of God through nature. More important, it is a theological stance that God is involved in human history, and that there is a cause for mass human suffering and that we can therefore correct it.

Moreover, the classical way of interpreting that God used history and natural disaster to inflict punishment for a sin is coupled with Chazal's stance that the punishment must always be 'midah k'neged midah'.

How Katrina could be more midah k'neged midah for the expulsion of Jews a few weeks ago I can't even figure out. Let's examine it:

1. Jews were told they must leave their homes becuase it is 'dangerous'. They are 'voluntary evacuated'.

1a. Americans are told to voluntarily evacuate New Orleans due to the danger the hurricane poses.

2. Those Jews who refuse to leave their homes are then forecfully evacuted.

2a. Today we begin reading that America will forefully evacuate citizens from their homes if unwilling to leave.

3. Jews are left homeless.

3a. Americans are left homeless.

4. America pressured Israel to withdraw, despite knowing that this violates Bush's own terror doctrine, and that it is existentially dangerous to Israel, because they want to relieve Arab pressure on America in the hopes that placating Arab opinion may save American lives abroad (such as Iraq) and at home (from terror).

4a. As many as 20,000 Americans lay dead.

5. America pressured Israel in order to ensure a steady flow of oil, and to maintain low oil prices.

5a. America suffers the worst oil crisis in 30 years as hundreds of refineries are put out of comissions, pipelines are destroyed, and the economy will likely face the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

6. Israeli Government, meaning Dictator Sharon, is able to get support for the close votes on expulsion by stating that 2.2 billion dollars will be received from America to pay for the cost of expelling Jews from their homes and paying for new communities in the Galil and Negev.

6a. Due to katrina, Israel has already stated that it will now have to back away from this request/demand, and does not expect to receive funds. In point of fact, Israel is now spending money on America to bring over 100 tons of goods to the states.

We can go on, but I think my point is clear.

You can look at all this and refuse to see any pattern, say it is 'mikreh' that is fine, perhaps even logical. But to refuse to be able to see how this does have the appearance of midah k'neged midah, and how with the backdrop of the expulsion of Jews fro mthe heartland of Biblical Israel and the 3,000 year old tradition of interpreting history in this fashion, to say that Rav Ovadia is doing anything other than giving a classical jewish interpretation is mistaken.

Sam said...

It's a good thing you and Rav Ovadia know what God is thinking—otherwise I wouldn't know WHAT to believe! Now I know: God wants poor Americans to suffer because Ariel Sharon and Bush aren't as right-wing as He is. Good thing I wasn't in New Orleans; I guess I'll get mine soon enough!

Josh said...

Sarcasm aside, there is a whole slew of plausible interpretations about theodicy.

Zev said...

Mikey Passman (HaKadosh) reminded me of the mishna which talks about how you should not fault people for the troubles that befall them. While interpretation you offer Mr Halevi is provocative, we have ceased to make declaratory statements associating natural disasters with human folly. Someone ought to give the memo to HaRav Ovadya.

miriam said...

"we have ceased to make declaratory statements associating natural disasters with human folly. Someone ought to give the memo to HaRav Ovadya. "

zev, i suspect that a cursory review of jewish history since the mishanh you cite will reveal that, unless you define "we" as the people who "have ceased..." you are in fact empirically mistaken. certainly, for example, rav O. has not ceased this activity. rav ovadiah is a big talmid chacham, wahtever else may be said, and you should maybe not talk about yourself havinga "memo; that he doesn't so cavalierly...