Update: The Lucky Ones

We’ve been without power for 24 hours and I must say this is a very strange experience. I’ve never seen anything like this windstorm: there is no rain, no clouds, but the wind comes in ferocious gusts which tumble patio furniture and rip stressed trees to bits. It truly is a storm, only with sunshine.

I titled this “The Lucky Ones” because I have to acknowledge our good luck. So many people around the region are now under evacuation. They won’t know if their homes were spared until they are allowed back. Some know their homes are gone. Some survived only with the clothing on their bodies and maybe a dog or cat.

We’ve tried to make the best of the quiet here at home. I finished a knitting project during the daytime, and tonight, like last night, I’ll go to bed early. I’ve checked in on friends via text message, but had to cancel my afternoon online class. I have no Internet, and trying to teach from an overcrowded Starbucks… no, better to wait!

Such situations as these fires raise theological questions. Why do some people suffer, when others are lucky? Why does God allow these destructive winds? Did we do something bad? Are we being punished?

Jewish tradition has lots of different answers to these questions. The book of Deuteronomy seems to suggest that bad things happen only to people who deserve them — but you and I both know that that can’t be right. Bad things happen to both the innocent and the guilty.

Every human being will experience tragedy sometime in their life. These days every Facebook feed seems full of good luck and virtue, but if you look deeper than the PR, pretty much everyone has troubles. Many people have pain they don’t advertise.

And yes, some people seem to enjoy boundless luck. It isn’t fair. All I know to say is that we never know as much as we think about other people’s lives.

Jewish tradition teaches us that the relief of suffering is OUR job. Waiting around for miracles isn’t likely to succeed – miracles are very, very rare. God does not usually fiddle with the laws of nature.

So if you feel lucky, look for someone to help. If you feel unlucky, look for someone else unlucky and help them. If you feel grateful, express that gratitude by helping someone.

We are God’s hands in this world.

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rabbiadar

Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi based in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, mom, poodle groomer, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at https://coffeeshoprabbi.com/ as the Coffee Shop Rabbi.

2 thoughts on “Update: The Lucky Ones”

  1. My machatunim were burned out in the Coffee Fire and were evacuated in this one. I feel disproportionately fortunate. There will be so much to do to help the victims and repair the earth in the months — and years — to come.

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    1. Dawn, I’m so sorry. Your machatunim — in laws — are your family. Your house may be ok but you and the rest of the family are suffering from these fires. Be gentle with yourself — survivor guilt is a real thing and it hurts. Reach out to friends. Consider some short-term therapy. Recovery from these multiple traumas is a slow thing. Let me know how it goes.

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