The Flood Waters Came…

This past week we have endured the fury of nature, resulting in one of the most difficult weeks in decades for our communities. I know that some of you – myself included – are without power and hot water, not to mention the peace of mind that comes with a life of the mundane. Ahh, to have that back.

We are sending out this month’s Newsletter that was prepared before and immediately after the storm. Much of the information contained within reveals itself to be incidental compared with the concerns of those of you still without power, heat, water, internet, refrigeration and any sense of stability. I share your concerns and hope that we all are soon restored with the amenities we rely upon.

As we consider the religious implications of this week, some have cursed a God who would bring such calamity. Others are silent in the face of the destruction. I am filled with sorrow at the losses so many have endured and saddened by destruction I have witnessed and hear about. The loss of life, property, trees and so much more is overwhelming.

A friend of mine who I have known since my days as a camper at the URJ Kutz Camp in Warwick, NY, is a rabbi in California. He is a master of the art of prayer, as well. He has shared his prayer regarding these days of destruction with my rabbinic colleagues. I wanted to share it with you in the hopes that its words will remind each of us of two things: one, the need for humility in the face of powers beyond us, and two, the need for encouragement that we have strength beyond our imagination to endure such calamity.

I hope each of you are well in these days of challenge.


Rabbi Joe Forman

Eloheinu velohei avoteinu v’imoteinu,
Our God and God of our fathers and mothers,

The flood waters came, wreaking havoc upon our cities, our homes, our rescue workers, our sense of security,
And we turn to You for comfort and support.
Help us to differentiate between floods of destruction
and down-pouring of Your love and comfort.

We know that waters can destroy.
In a world decimated many times before,
having been submerged in waters
from the Florida hurricanes, the Asian tsunami, and …
each of Biblical proportions,
we remember the destructive abilities of these flood waters.

Recalling now that the world, though filled with Your Glory,
is not equal to Your flawlessness,
we strive desperately, sometimes without success,
to move beyond the impulse to blame You.
Keep us far from apocalyptic thoughts, for we know that You ask us to care for each other, an awesome responsibility.

We also know that we can seek You in the waters.
We recall Your Loving Hand, guiding us in our infancy:
From a barren rock, You brought forth water to quench our thirst,
In the midst of a journey through the wilderness, You showed Miriam a myriad of wells which healed our parched throats,
You guided us through Yam Suf, the Red Sea, moving us past destruction toward new life and new beginnings.
Through Your love, we found our way.

Be with us now, during these deluged days.
Draw us close to those harmed by these waters, hearing their cries, responding to their needs.
Lead us to support those who will fix the cities,
care for the displaced, who bring healing to those suffering.
Though our attention spans seem so short, may we
be slow to forget those who were in danger.
Please bring a warm wind and hot sun from the heavenly realms to help dry up the flood waters.

And may we all embrace at least one lesson spoken aloud by so many who – facing the floods – rushed to pack up their valuables:

That memories of love and of time spent with family and friends are priceless, holy and sacred.
This can never be taken away.
As we rush to meet the challenge of living in this
imperfect world of ours,
May we slow down enough to cherish those who are truly valuable – kadosh/holy – to us.

Baruch Ata Adonai, Hamavdil bein kodesh l’chol.

Blessed are You, O God, who differentiates between the truly
Valuable and everything else.

–by Rabbi Paul Kipnes