Israel this morning is in shock. In one fell swoop of raging flood waters, 10 young people lost their lives yesterday. They were 18 year-olds from the "Bnei Tzion" premilitary academy in Tel Aviv, killed after being swept away in torrential floods (above image) yesterday afternoon during a hike in Nahal Tzafit, a river wadi in the Arava region east of the Dead Sea that's dry most of the year.
To put things into proportion, and to understand the magnitude of this tragedy, ten fatalities is a number equivalent to the average fatalities of two whole years of rocket attacks from Gaza!
This is a message from Hashem that no one can ignore. What does it mean?
You can walk in a wadi - a dry riverbed - on a clear day with a blue sky enjoying the desert's breathtaking beauty. Meanwhile, six miles away up in the mountains, strange unseasonal clouds gather and dump their furious downpour. In the space of ten minutes, an inch of rain falls (25mm), half the annual precipitation in the desert. All of a sudden, the waters - fast, mighty and overpowering, become a raging flood with the power to wash a semi-trailer away as if it were a Playmobile toy. The young people who lost their lives yesterday were hit with such a flash flood. They didn't have a chance of survival.
What's Hashem's message here? What does it mean when ten people get washed away like "A rock in turbulent waters" (Nehemia 9:11)? One Israeli meteorologist said that the flood waters in Nahal Tzafit were so powerful that they were washing 3-ton boulders away.
Thinking about this, I finally understood what King David prayed for all the time in a passage that is part of the Tikkun Klali: "For this, let every devout person pray to You at a time when misfortune befalls, that the flooding, mighty waters not overtake him" (Psalm 32:6). Wow - today's news from the Heavenly newsroom, or not?
What does it mean?
Nahal Tzafit - one of the meaning of tzafit in Hebrew is, "Did you observe?" Did you open your eyes? Did you search for the meaning?
You're going along with your life, hunky dory. You're fine - you go to synagogue, you eat kosher and you give charity. But all of a sudden, a flood of social pressure overtakes you. People tell you that you have to be on a Whatsapp group or on Facebook. You gotta make the Instagram scene. Before you know it, you (and your children) are washed away by the anti-emuna flood of gossip and evil speech. The woman is no longer baking challas and the men is no longer opening a Gemara. Their noses are in their smartphones. Their kids, with their own smartphones, lock themselves in the bathroom or bedroom and are texting on Shabbat.
Yes, this flood of epikorsis - social media heresy - is washing away the unsuspecting Jewish People. I know that many readers will have a fit about this, but sorry, but you know it's true.
For the last five days already, the Israel Meteorological Service has been warning on hourly radio broadcasts to stay away from Negev river wadis because of the chance of flooding. And the flooding came...
For the last five years, every one of our spiritual leaders - Sephardi, Lithuanian and Chassidic - have been warning of the dangers of the social media flood of heresy, telling people to stay away. And that flooding came raging too.
Is anyone listening?
If King David - King of Israel and Hashem's anointed - had the need to beg Hashem to protect him from "the flooding, mighty waters", which our sages interpret as the major sins of lashon hara, heresy, debauchery and bloodshed, what can we say? Can we nonchalantly stroll down the dry river beds of seemingly innocent social media, then get hit with a flood of lashon hara, heresy, debauchery and bloodshed, all of which washes everything away in its path?
The social media flood is a greater threat than Hamas and Hezbolla, but few people will take this to heart. For the one person who will, and decides to return to the spiritual high ground of prayer, Torah learning and challah baking, then this post was worth it. May are efforts in spiritual strengthening bring gratitude to the cherished souls who were washed away in yesterday's flood, amen! Shabbat Shalom, and may we hear good tidings,