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The World Trembles
by Prof. Yirmiyahu Branover

For the past several weeks, the news has been dominated by reports of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, which claimed over 100,000 lives. Nations around the world sent relief missions bearing food, water, and crucial medical supplies and equipment. Highly trained and experienced search-and-rescue teams worked tirelessly to free earthquake victims buried under the rubble.

Of course, the state of Israel played a leading role in Haiti relief efforts. Despite its small size, Israel was the first country to set up a fully functioning field hospital with a surgical operating room. ZAKA International, an Israeli-based organization known mainly for its rescue and recovery operations following terrorist attacks, deployed to Haiti and contributed their expertise and tireless efforts on behalf of earthquake victims.

Haiti itself was one of the few countries to open its borders to Jews escaping Europe during World War II. It issued hundreds of visas to Jews, allowing them to settle in the country indefinitely. It is fitting, therefore, that Jewish people are now showing their gratitude by contributing generously to the Haitian relief efforts.

Hakarat hatov, acknowledging the good that one has done for us and reciprocating whenever possible, is an essential concept in Judaism. However, even if the Jewish people did not owe any reciprocity to Haiti, no one possessing even the slightest compassion could view the carnage and not be moved to help.

In the recent past, a poor nation like Haiti was a target of exploitation and abuse by wealthier countries. In our time the sentiment has shifted completely. Natural disasters call forth our best humanitarian instincts and people around the world come together to offer assistance. Military forces from many countries, including the United States, have dispatched to Haiti to assist in peacekeeping and smooth transfer of food and other necessities.

What occurred in Haiti is a tragedy of the highest order, but in the response we see a foretaste of the era of Moshiach, when we will see the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah: “And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. A nation will not lift a sword against nation and will no longer study war.”

If you have not already done so, we urge you to take action to help the people of Haiti. As our sages say, “The action is the main thing.” The Jewish people stand with Haiti! In the merit of this outpouring of goodness and kindness, may we merit that the world will stand stable and strong, with the complete revelation of our righteous Moshiach. 

Prof. Yirmiyahu Branover is chairman of the Center of Magnetohydrodynamic Studies and Training at Ben-Gurion University.



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