With school closed, transportation suspended, and the local park off limits, I cast about for something other than “work” to fill the day.  My thoughts turned to the weather, and I asked myself whether Judaism has anything instructive to say about hurricanes.

Wind and rain are as old as creation.  The ru’ah elohim, usually translated as “the spirit of God,” that “hovered upon the face of the water” (Genesis 1:2), can also be interpreted as “a divine wind,” a form of hyperbole indicating that the wind exceeded anything natural or ordinary.

Rain is more equivocal.  On the one hand, it is implicit in the third day’s creation of vegetation and fruit-bearing trees (1:12), while, on the other hand, the reprise of creation in Genesis 2:5 states explicitly: “No shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no herb of the field had yet sprung up; for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.”

The Talmud, ever alert to such contradictions, resolves that God created a world with the potential for natural growth, but did not enable this potential to be realized until man acknowledged it, and made provision for it.

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