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Me’or Einayim: Earthquake & Finding God

The 13th of Kislev is the Yahrtzeit of Azariah ben Moshe Dei Rossi, author of Me’or Einayim, essays on Jewish history. He died on November 12, 1578.  “The greatest Jewish historian of the Italian Renaissance was Azariah ben Moses de Rossi (1510-1578). In Me’or Einayim (Enlightenment for the Eyes), he described the disastrous 10-day earthquake of 1571. He noted that whereas Jews tended to see Divine intervention in the event, other scholars often searched for natural causes. Me’or Einayaim aroused opposition even among the enlightened Jewish scholars in Italy.”

The entire creation is Names of God. This is what the Sages mean when they teach that the world was created with letters of the Aleph-Bet. This is also related to the idea in the Ramban’s Introduction to his Commentary to the Torah, when he says that the entire Torah is made up of Names of God. 

Most people are not astounded and do not respond from what they experience as natural, but they are shocked by any change or an event that is not ordinary. Then they are frightened.

This is not a new phenomenon. All of Israel saw the fire of God ignite the Altar and they fell on their faces and cried out. Samuel’s generation only responded when they heard terrifying sounds. The sailors of Yonah’s ship only cried out to God when they were frightened by the storm.

This is the nature of man; to need something tarrying to force them to respond and cry out to God. Even Joseph did not feel compassion for his brothers until he saw them.

I have seen this myself: On the Thursday, the 17th of Kislev, 5331, the 18th of November, 1571, people were taking their afternoon siestas when terrifying sounds began to shake every home and courtyard. We had never experienced anything like this before, nor did we ever hear of such things from our parents.

The sounds were accompanied by earthquakes that shook the heavens, till we all covered our ears with our hands because of the terrible noise.

We woke up from our naps, totally confused, convinced that the world was about to be destroyed. Then we realized that it was an earthquake.

A person of spirit should in great awe, bless the Almighty, Whose strength fills the Earth.

The shaking did not end. God was still angry with us. The tremors continued for hours.

Parents ran to protect and save their children.

The parents should speak to their children of God’s Power and Might.

Kol Elokim – Introduction to Me’or Einayim

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