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Unread 01-29-2012, 04:11 PM   #1
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The "Ufaratzta" volcano and Moshiach

Here's a hopeful way of looking at recent world events. In the last couple of years there have been a series of terrible calamities. Some are man-made but others are not. There was the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Had that leak not been stopped it could have poisoned much of the world's oceans, from whose plant life comes most of the oxygen we breathe.

Then there was the volcano in Iceland. The volcano there is linked underground through a series of natural tunnels to several other volcanoes nearby and when one blows, the others usually blow too. It was spewing out ash and had all of them erupted it would have produced enough Sun-blocking ash that Europe would have had no summer for a couple of years, causing massive crop failures in Europe and worldwide skyrocketing food prices.

Then there is the potential calamity of Iran getting the atom bomb, G-d forbid.

Why are all these terrible things suddenly happening? A Chassid looks for the deeper meaning in things. Here is a little hint to the meaning of it all that I came across.

One of the most troubling of these recent crises was the earthquake in Japan that caused a tsunami that wrecked several huge nuclear power plants, causing radiation to spread around the world and leaking ultra-toxic plutonium into the sea. The crisis is still not over and no one knows how long it will take to get full control over the nuclear reactors there or how many people will die from it all in how many countries, G-d forbid. Some estimates are that the nuclear reactors will not be under full control for another 100 years, G-d forbid. It has been described as the worst industrial accident in history.

It is not my intention to minimize any of this.

But let's look deeper. The Japan nuclear disaster was caused by an earthquake. When we are in an earthquake we recite the brocha, "sheh-kocho ugevuraso malay olam" - "whose might and power fill the earth." The phrase includes "gevurah" which manss "strengh, power" but it also means "severity, strictness, limitation," the opposite of "chesed," which means "kindness." Kindness is very closely related to Chassidism. "Chassid" comes from the word "chesed," meaning "kindness."

Kindness is also associated with a lack of limitation, with spreading out. When the Baal Shem Tov's soul temporarily ascended to heaven on Rosh Hashana he met the Moshiach and asked him when he was coming. The Moshiach replied, "When the wellsprings of your teachings are dispersed abroad into the outer reaches." In other words, spreading out. And this has become the "mission statement" of the Chassidic movement, underscored in the Chabad song, "Ufaratzta," "You shall spread out."

I couldn't help noticing that despite the terrible calamity that occurred in Japan, this was not the only major expression of "might and power filling the earth" at that time. Shortly after the earthquake in Japan there was an eruption of a volcano in southern Japan, the worst eruption of that volcano in decades. This was apparently triggered by tremors from the earthquake.

And there was one other major event of this kind. A week before the earthquake in Japan, the famous Mount Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, an active volcano, had a huge new eruption and a gigantic, spectacular fissure opened up in the earth with enormous flows of lava over an immense area, killing many trees. Fortunately, this was not dangerous as it is part of a volcano that has been active for ages and is actually part of a park called the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Park that tourists visit as long as they don't get too close to the lava. No one was killed or injured by this latest Hawaiian volcanic eruption. Also, the lava of that volcano does not spew ash so it does not have a major effect on weather. But this new volcanic eruption involved a series of earthquakes that accompanied the eruption. So this too is a sign of G-d's "might and power filling the earth."

Does this all represent just gevurah, strength, limitation? Consider this: The Hawaiian volcano is named after the Hawaiian word "Kilauea" which in Hawaiian means: "Much spreading." In other words, the name of the volcano means: UFARATZTA. And this new eruption there happened a week before the Japanese earthquake that precipitated the tsunami and nuclear disaster there.

So what is really coming into the world now, chesed or gevurah?

Here is what all this suggests to me. It suggests to me that it is not just gevurah that is coming into the world but also the opposite, chesed. The gevurah is perhaps coming to balance the chesed, to make the world worthy of the chesed, but it would seem that heaven has decided that this chesed must come now. If the world is facing such calamity, and if there is a clear hint that it is associated with a new shefa of chesed coming into the world, with a meaning related to "ufaratzta," that is a very hopeful sign. Perhaps Moshiach is on his way.

Here is a spectacular short video of the eruption that occurred at Mount Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii a week before the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster in Japan:

I take all this as a positive sign, despite the terrible loss of life and the dangers in all this. One of the characteristics of a Chassid is to see G-dliness where others only see goshmius, materiality. I hope these observations offer a better way to view recent troubling events.

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Unread 01-29-2012, 04:24 PM   #2
Yankel Nosson
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An earthquake is a shift that comes from deep within and causes the collapse of buildings, structures which express the opposite of bitul.

A volcano is a bursting forth of heat and pressure from below -- isarusa delasata.

In their spiritual counterparts, in the avodas haAdom, they are surely positive.
Chassidim must study Chassidus--HaYom Yom 21Kislev
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