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by Jeff Ram    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

History can repeat itself. Therefore, it is a good idea to look at history when we plan for the future.



History can repeat itself. Therefore, it is a good idea to look at history when we plan for the future. It is said that those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it. We know from history what extremes a society can reach. On the negative side, society slid to a record low in the city of Sodom and its surrounding cities. The people who lived there reached an all-time low. G-d brought fire and brimstone down on the city. In the end, only ashes were left of what had been five cities.

Rashi, the preeminent Torah commentator, explains that G-d began the destruction of the cities by causing rain to fall on the cities. He then changed the rain into fire and brimstone. The Talmud (Tractate Taíanit) teaches us that G-d, so to speak, keeps personal control of three important "keys," not entrusting these keys with any messengers. They are the keys for granting rain, granting births, and regranting life to those who have died. The Torah tells us (Genesis 19:24) that the destruction of the cities of Sodom, Amorah, and the other cities was done by G-d Himself. That would mean that the rain, which turned into fire and sulfer rock (brimstone) was sent directly from G-d, and that, of course, would be consistent with what the Talmud stated about Hashemís control of the rain. In fact, the verse states, "and G-d caused rain to fall on the cities" (ibid.). Why was it necessary for G-d to bring the rain first?

One possible answer is that G-d wanted to encourage the depraved people of these cities to do sincere teshuvah (repentance). G-d hoped they would accept the rain as a blessing and realize that it was G-d who controls the world, and therefore turn to Him in repentance. Had they realized when the rain fell that G-d was in control of the world and that they should repair their ways; had they done proper teshuvah, they could have saved themselves. However, we know how the story turns out, and they did not.

Unfortunately, it is often that way with us as well. How many of us actually see the beauty of G-d when things are beautiful? Do we pass up the opportunity to recognize the greatness of G-d when things are really going great? How many of us "wake up" to recognize G-dís providence only when bad things happen? How many of us never wake up?

The fact is that most of our "big" problems are, in fact, so small that they will not even be remembered two or three months from now. Our sages write that the elements in nature follow a pattern and they are predictable. The sun will dependably rise and set every day. One element of nature is unpredictable, and that is the rain. As important as it is, G-d, through His exclusive control of it, prevents us from taking it for granted.

Therefore, it is always worth our while to realize that G-d is in control, and to be grateful for the blessings that we have; our blessings from G-d. It is important for us to be thankful while the rain of blessing is falling and things are pleasant, rather than forcing G-dís hand to find other ways to wake us up.  


Jeff Ram, a former Atlantan, writes from Jerusalem.

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