Weekly Inspiration

The World is Burning
August 3rd, 2023
The World is Burning

Wildfires are burning over Europe, North Africa and North America. 

World temperatures in July were the hottest ever recorded. 

Mediterranean Sea water last month reached the highest temperature on record. 

A tourist described the scene on the Greek Island of Rhodes as “Dante’s Inferno.”

Let’s try to understand this plague of fire. 

Every day we say the following words: “Beware lest your heart be seduced and you turn astray and serve gods of others and bow to them. Then the wrath of Hashem will blaze against you. He will restrain the heaven so there will be no rain ….” (Shema)

Note the word “blaze.” 

We recently read Parshas Va’eschanan, where Hashem says, “I appoint heaven and earth as witnesses against you today ….” (Dvarim 4:26)

Here is how Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch understands this possuk: If mankind worships the forces of nature, the Torah tells us that Hashem will appoint those very forces as witnesses to testify against those who worship them. “If, instead of serving G-d, you will worship anything encompassed by heaven and earth, G-d will appoint heaven and earth to warn and to punish you. Heaven and earth will not look upon you with favor if you turn your back on G-d in order to curry favor with them….”

Today, heaven and earth are punishing the world. 

Why is the earth getting warmer? 

I’m not looking for the “scientific” explanation, because that will not help us. We need the explanation which can bring the cure. 

Malachi ha Novi said: “Hinai ha yom ba … For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven ….” The novi’s words are both terrifying and comforting, for he also prophesied that, on that same day, “a sun of righteousness will shine for you who fear My Name, with healing in its rays….” (Malachi 3:20)

The nations of the world, the descendants of Edom, are worshipping the material world. These are the children of the man who, in his voracious hunger, said, “Pour into me, now, some of that very red stuff!” (Beraishis 25:30) 

We have to know that there are life-and-death consequences for abandoning Hashem and seeking satisfaction from heaven and earth. In the world of Edom, millions of vacationers are seeing their plans literally burn in front of their eyes. For those who seek sun and pleasure, unlimited eating and every kind of materialistic excess, the very sun they seek is punishing them by scorching the earth. 

This is exactly what our neviim predicted thousands of years ago. Hashem’s words are coming to pass. If we want to protect ourselves, then we have no choice but to pour the life-giving water of Torah on the flames. This is the only way to turn the fire into a fire of blessing. 

Chazal tell us: “Hakadosh Baruch Hu said, ‘[It is incumbent] upon Me to pay for the blaze that I kindled. I lit the fire in Tzion … and I will in the future build it [again] with fire, as it says: ‘And I will be for it … a wall of fire all around and for glory I will be in its midst.’” (Bava Kamma 60b)

My friends, we have to know that the fire is coming from Shomayim

Recently, I quoted Sefer Kol Aryeh (which I found in the Artscroll biography of Rav Yaakov Moshe Kulefsky zt”l)“Why do we cover our eyes when we say the Shema? To teach us not to look at what happens in this world, not to pay attention to what we see. Because if we do, we will get very confused and depressed…. In the World to Come … we will [perceive that what we thought was bad was really] good. In the meanwhile, our Sages imparted to us this secret: Don’t look. It’s not what it seems, and don’t be misled ….” 

It is our job to fear Hashem and His Holy Name. This will save us. 

The fiery events around us will play out according to the will of Hashem, but we are here to sanctify His Name by coming closer to Him and to each other. In this way, we will advance the moment when He sends the promised redeemer, may we greet him soon in our days! 


Chazal: Rabbis of the Mishna and Gemora
Hakadosh Baruch Hu: The Holy One, Blessed is He (G-d)
Novi: Prophet (plural: neviim)
Shomayim: Heaven

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