High Holidays and Hurricanes

My kavanah from today before Unetaneh tokef.  Now it seems Hurricane Matthew is coming to South Florida.  

"Rabbi Edward Feinstein once told a number of rabbis that during the month of Elul, rabbis become moon watchers.  Everyday, we see the moon get smaller and smaller – it’s our countdown to the holidays – the countdown to when our sermons have to be completed.  In addition to watching the moon, Rabbis in Florida watch something else…the weather channel!  Well, apparently, there may, or may not, be a hurricane coming to South Florida:  Matthew.  One news reporter said:  “If you live in South Florida, just watch this one over the next couple of days.”  Just watch over this one over the next couple of days?!?  Are you kidding me?!?  I felt like yelling at the meteorologist – do you know what’s about to happen in the next ‘couple of days’?!?  

Why am I talking about hurricanes now?  Because the prayer we are about to read, Unetaneh Tokef, wakes us up to something that we don’t often want to think about – the hurricanes in our lives.  Hurricanes are natural disasters that we cannot control.  They are formed in mystery, and they come to our shores.  Sometimes they come fast, sometimes slow – sometimes big, sometimes small.   Some of us have bigger homes to protect us, some are absolutely exposed; but we are all vulnerable.  

And what gets us through the storms of life?  How can we control the uncontrollable?  

Tesuvah – returning to oneself – looking in the mirror – seeing what you can do to right the wrongs you’ve caused

Tefillah – we pray – we connect to God and to our communities through words of prayer.  

Tzedakah – bringing justice and righteousness into the world through charity.  At the moment when the storm is bearing down on us, rather than just look inward, we look outward to people who may need more help than us.  

Will any of this prevent the storm from coming?  No, it won’t.  But, it can lessen the severity of the damage.


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