As one part of the country still struggles to recover from the immediate after-effects of Hurricane Harvey, another is being battered by Hurricane Irma, an incredibly powerful storm that is dominating international headlines. Late Thursday, Mexico was hit by an extraordinarily strong, 8.1 magnitude earthquake that was felt for more than 650 miles. On Friday, some 82 wildfires were reported burning in the United States involving nearly 1.5 million acres in nine Western states.
Nearly a century ago, when devastating earthquakes killed tens of thousands in Japan, the Chofetz Chaim undertook a partial fast and urged Klal Yisrael to do teshuvah. Two years later, when a powerful earthquake hit Russia, destroying entire cities and causing many fatalities, the Chofetz Chaim wrote a powerful letter about it.
“Certainly, any thinking person should be gripped by fear and trembling as to what Hashem has done to us. The One Who is good and does good to all is merciful to all His creations, and does not even desire the death of the wicked, as it says: ‘By My life, says Hashem, I do not desire the death of the wicked one, but rather that he repent and live’ (Yechezkel 33). The understanding person will realize that Hashem is urging us to do teshuvah and is showing us all that He has the power to do as He pleases, and none of His creations of Above or below can tell Him what to do. And it is clear to me that if we had prophets sent from Hashem, they would, without doubt, be standing guard to urge Jews to do teshuvah to our Father in Heaven. Because, with our evil deeds, we have no prophets or divine messengers in our times, He is urging us through other messengers to do teshuvah, as it says: ‘He makes winds His messengers; burning fire His servants…’”
These piercing words of the Chofetz Chaim speak for themselves.