I once wrote that HHH stands for “hazy, hot, and humid” and that sometimes we all suffer from a ‘triple H’ day. That was what HHH stood for yesterday.
Today, HHH stands for something very different: “Heavy-Handed Harvey.”
The sheer destruction and vast swaths of devastation which we have witnessed in the wake of Hurricane Harvey is simply unbelievable, indeed, it seems to have reached Biblical proportions. Thousands and thousands of people have been left homeless, lives have been upended and for many people the only physical possession they have left is the shirt on their back. Of course many of you are aware of the various reliable organizations through which you can contribute and help out and my point is not to encourage you to do the obvious. Rather, I am writing about feelings, not about money.
I am generally not a big believer in the importance or significance of dreams. As the Prophet Zechariah (10:2) stated years ago: “For the teraphim spoke futility, and the soothsayers envisioned lies, and dreamers speak lies…” And as the Talmud (Gittin 52a) states: “Dreams do not elevate you and do not bring you down.”
Nevertheless, after viewing the horrifying pictures from Houston and the devastation wrought from the heavens (literally), last night I dreamt that my house was flooded. In my dream I was walking in my house and I was submerged in water. I was terrified and called for help. Alas, there was no one to answer me and no one to help me.
Thankfully that was only a dream and when I awoke this morning, my house was dry and stable, the sun was shining and all was well. However, it made me think though about the people in Texas and what they are going through. The verse (Tehillim 91:15) says: “I am with him in distress.” We learn from here that we are required to attempt to feel and empathize with the pain of our fellow human beings.
Even if we are basking in beautiful sunlight and we are enjoying a relaxing nap in our comfortable home, we must somehow attempt to place ourselves in the situation of those who are suffering. It is something which Hashem expects of us to attempt to feel. Even if you don’t know one person in Texas, it is a very “Jewish” thing to attempt to identify with them and to feel their pain. When you walk into your dry and comfortable home tonight and you retire to your own soft and warm bed, think for a moment about the thousands of human beings who are sleeping in communal shelters packed like sardines with no showers and having to wait in line for a cup of coffee.
Think about these newly homeless hurricane victims who are sleeping on a cot in a public shelter surrounded by a cacophony of crying children, moaning adults and hordes of people who have not bathed in days. Think about them before you close your eyes tonight. Think about them and feel their pain. Believe me, it’s the most authentic Jewish response you can achieve.