I am reposting this blog on the first anniversary of the Haitian earthquake:
It is far easier to work for the BNN, the Biblical News Network, and report on thousands of years and cities of Jewish history, than it is to work for CNN and report on everything that is happening all over the world today. I can digest the history at my own pace. I can cry with the Jews of 14th century Majorca and rejoice with 16th century communities in Russia. I cannot, however, cry over all the tragedies that occur each day, here and now. We are swamped with news and have all become practiced New Yorkers at blocking out so much of what is happening right before our eyes.
We cannot block out tragedies such as the recent earthquake in Haiti, but we are so overwhelmed by its magnitude that, while most shake their heads in sorrow, and many send checks, few of us know what to do. Once the gates are forced open, there is a tidal wave of awareness of all the suffering around us and we begin to ask, “what are our responsibilities? What should be our priorities? Should I send money to Haiti or to the poor people in my own neighborhood? How much of a difference can I make?” We question. We become frustrated. We don’t know what to do.
“Cursed is Meroz… cursed are its inhabitants” (Judges 5:23) The Zohar (Volume 3 269b) explains that Meroz is the name of another planet whose inhabitants are cursed because they did not travel through space to help save Jerusalem from destruction.
Meroz is even further away than Haiti. Does this Zohar mean that when CNN begins to report on extra terrestrial life, we will have to respond to their tragedies as well? It’s already too much!
I believe that the Zohar is teaching us that we must view the universe as an expression of God’s Unity. Perhaps the Extra Terrestrials on Meroz heard of the impending tragedy, sighed, shrugged their shoulders, after all there was nothing practical they could do. They did not consider that we are all connected, and even if we are limited in practical ways, we too are affected by everything. They could have prayed. They could have examined themselves and find ways to improve. When we recognize the connection, we also accept that we can improve the entire universe by improving ourselves.
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