As Jews, we look for meaning in everything that happens in our lives, and it is in that light that I would like to suggest the following.

The Mishna in Tractate Brachot says that when one sees an earthquake or hurricane etc., one should make the blessing “Blessed be He whose strength and power fill the world.” This clearly expresses the belief that G-d controls natural disasters, and causes them so that we can experience His might and power. Why do some need to experience it now and why do some have to experience it more than others? I do not think that anyone can know for sure why other people experience natural disasters. But we can try to find meaning and purpose for ourselves as individuals.

The Talmud in the beginning of Tractate Brachot says that if someone is suffering they should review their own actions. There must be some way that this suffering can give meaning to a piece of my being that needed to be nurtured. The Mishna in Brachot also mentions that if someone suffers a personal loss they should say: “Blessed be He, the true Judge.”

There is a wonderful Chassidic story about Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev. He once had it announced that after the Mincha (afternoon) service on Shabbat he would be lecturing on the subject of “What I, Levi Yitzchak would do if I were G-d.” There was much excitement about the topic, and the synagogue was filled to overflowing when the time for the discourse arrived. R. Levi Yitzchak dramatically made his way to the lectern, and in an emotional voice said: “If I, Levi Yitzchak were G-d, I would do….exactly what G-d does. The problem is that I am not G-d, am not all-seeing and all-knowing, and that’s why I don’t understand so much of what He is doing.” Essentially, that is what we mean when we make the blessing “Blessed be He, the true Judge.”

As Jews we are ever hopeful that every dramatic event will bring us closer to a time when G-d’s presence is openly revealed.