In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec 2, 2004 / 18 Kislev, 5765

‘Natural disasters’ can in actuality be much more

By Rabbi Berel Wein

Printer Friendly Version

Email this article

Sometimes we moderns need reminders

http://www.jewishworldreview.com | The recent infestation of Egypt, Jordan and parts of Israel by swarms of locusts serves to remind us of our biblical heritage.

In our modern-day, technologically advanced world, crop duster airplanes loaded with pesticides spray the advancing horde of locusts and usually are quite successful in exterminating them before they destroy all of the crops in their path. In biblical days, there was no such defense available against an invasion of locusts. Locust invasions were truly seen then as plagues that could destroy a country's economy and bring the population to the brink of starvation.

The invasion of Egypt by hordes of locusts at the command of Moshe (Moses) was counted as one of the ten plagues that the L-rd visited upon the Egyptians to force them to free their Israelite slaves. The locusts destroyed what remained of Egyptian agriculture after the destruction of the hailstorm that preceded the arrival of the locust swarm. Having once been caught myself in a locust swarm while driving through Kansas, I can personally attest to the fearsome nature of this plague. The experience almost made me feel sympathetic to the ancient Egyptian slave masters — but only almost. The Torah (Bible) definitely classifies locust swarms as not just a natural event but rather as a plague, a punishment, an expression of Heaven's displeasure with human behavior, if you will.

Another great locust plague is recorded in the Bible. It refers to an enormous swarm of locusts that smote the Land of Israel in First Temple times. The event is recorded for us in the book of the prophet Joel. The rabbis taught us that this later plague of locusts was even more fearsome than the one that struck the Egyptians in the time of Moshe. The locust plague of Joel consisted of numerous different forms and species of locusts while the plague in Egypt was of only one type of locust.

There are at least five different words in Hebrew that are translated into English as "locust." In reality, each of these Hebrew words refers to a precise and distinct type or specie of the locust family. In one of the prayers of the Hoshana Rabah holiday, the seventh day of Succos (Tabernacles), we ask to be delivered during the coming year from the plague of locusts and all of the different species of locusts are enumerated in that prayer. During the time of Joel, the prophet was able to pinpoint for Israel the cause, the failure in its national behavior, which brought on the locust plague. Not being favored with prophet in our time, we are reduced to spraying the advancing locusts with poison, thus treating the symptom without being able to deal with the underlying cause.

Jewish tradition always saw and still sees so-called "natural disasters" as messages being sent to humans from up Above. Judaism does not believe in a world of random events — even natural ones. Thus the recent locust plague undoubtedly has something to tell us. I therefore believe that the minimum lesson to be derived is to study the book of Joel and take to heart its recommendations for our personal and national improvement in faith and behavior.

Donate to JWR

The Land of Israel is a place always in danger of "natural disasters." It is dependent upon a relatively short rainy season to store a year's supply of water. It sits on major faults in the earth, which makes it prone to seismic shocks if not major earthquakes, G-d forbid.

Sandstorms and swamps are also its lot. And we are now witness to our vulnerability to locusts. The Bible told us all of this in advance. The Land of Israel is the land "where the eyes of the L-rd your G-d are affixed upon it from the beginning of the year till the end of the year." Thus the land itself, its topography and location, its scarcity of natural resources and its constant exposure to possible natural disasters, serves as a continual reminder of the presence here of the G-d of Israel and His interest in us.

The swarms of locusts that recently visited us should serve to remind us of previous times here in the land, of our exodus from Egyptian bondage, and above all else of the bedrock faith of Judaism in the will of the Creator Who has fashioned us all.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in uplifting articles. Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Rabbi Berel Wein is one of Jewry's foremost historians and founder of the Destiny Foundation. He has authored over 650 tapes, books and videos which you can purchase at RabbiWein.com. Comment by clicking here or calling 1-800-499-WEIN (9346).

© 2004, Rabbi Berel Wein