For years, experts have been baffled how so many experienced swimmers have drowned in the Kinneret, the Sea of Galilee, which by Swiss or American standards, would be no more than a medium-to-small-size docile lake whose waves at their choppiest barely reach a foot tall.
Since the 4th of July a week ago, there have been over a dozen earthquakes in Israel. Nine felt earthquakes, those 3.0 on the Richter scale and higher, have been smack in the middle of the Kinneret, all revolving around the earthquake epicenter (see above graphics), which is the exact place of the great Syrian-African Rift that separates between Asia and Africa. This is also a potential center of volcanic activity, as bear witness all the volcanic rock that surrounds Kinneret. In fact, the old houses in Tiberias, Capernaum and all around the Sea of Galilee are built of that familiar black volcanic rock.
All week long, I've been asking myself what the message Hashem is conveying by way of the earthquakes. This has been in my prayers as well.
This morning, after Shacharit prayers, I had a strange urge to run home and open up a Chumash. I did, and my Book of Numbers opened up to Chapter 20, that tells about Moses hitting the rock to elicit water in the desert instead of talking to the rock. The holy Ramban (Nachmanides) says that this rock was Miriam's Well that accompanied the Jewish People for forty years in the desert. Rashi, in his elaboration of the Gemara in Pesachim 54a agrees with the Ramban and says that the rock Moses hit was Miriam's well. Comes along the Yerushalmi Gemara, tractate Ketubot 67a, and tells us that after the Jewish People came into the Land of Israel, Hashem deposited and concealed Miriam's well in Kinneret, off the coast of Tiberias. This fact was later substantiated by the holy Ariza'l and his prime disciple Rabbi Chaim Vital.
So you see, Moses didn't have to hit the rock. The rock, inasmuch as it was Miriam's well, was ready to flow forth with sufficient water to quench the thirst of an entire nation, if he would only have spoken to it as Hashem requested.
Hold it - this is getting much more exciting. The same rock that provided water for all the Jewish People for forty years in the desert became the rock that Moses was punished for. If you look at Rashi's commentary on Numbers Ch. 21, verses 15-16, you'll see that the same benevolent rock not only triggered an earthquake that led to the death of the Amorites who hid in the mountain crevices waiting to ambush the Jewish People on their way to Israel. Not only did the rock trigger the tremor, but its water later washed up the remains of the Amorites to show the Jews the miracle that Hashem did for them.
We see an amazing principle fact here: the rock, which is also Miriam's well, can be a source of life or a source of destruction.
It can be a source of abundance, of healing waters, or the epicenter of destructive earthquakes.
What does all this have to do with the Three Weeks? The Yerushalmi Gemara in Berachot 64a says that Elijah the Prophet told Rabbi Nehorai that when Hashem gazes down at earth and sees all the plush stadiums and theaters, yet His Holy Temple is still destroyed, His roar causes earthquakes. That same Gemara lists two other causes of earthquakes - failure to give sufficient charity and homosexuality. The Babylonian Talmud in Berachot 59a gives a slightly different reason, but also connected to the Three Weeks: when Hashem sees that His children are still dispersed among the nations, He sheds two tears in the sea and this causes earthquakes.
No wonder we read the Torah portion of Chukat, which talks about Miriam's well and Moses with the rock, a week before the 17th of Tammuz and the start of the Three Weeks. No wonder the string of earthquakes, which has the whole north of Israel losing sleep at night, began with the Three Weeks.
Meanwhile, the south of Israel is still burning. Rather than making emuna and teshuva a national priority, our Nero-like leaders, rather than taking the earthquakes and the chance of a "big one" on the way as experts are warning, they're worried about sending an Israeli spacecraft to the moon. I truly wish I were joking, but I'm not.
Would you rather wait for Ezekiel's prophecy to manifest itself? "For in My jealousy and in the fire of My wrath have I spoken: Surely in that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel" (Ezekiel 38:19).
I can only imagine the boo-hoo and bellyaching that this post will elicit, but that's too bad. People argue with Emuna News because it bursts the bubble of their comfort zone, while Torah, emuna and teshuva take a second place (or no place at all) to chatrooms and social media. But, you're not arguing with me, incredulous brothers and skeptical sisters: I've listed all my sources above. All I did here was to connect the dots. Go argue with our sages - Elijah the Prophet, Ezekiel the Prophet, Rebbe Yochanan, Rava, Rav Ashi, Rabina, Rashi, the Ramban and the Ariza'l, and that's not all...
Guess what will happen when Moshiach will come and reveal the exact place of Miriam's well: people with an incurable and terminal diseases will immerse themselves in its waters (one source says a mere sprinkle will suffice) and emerge with perfect health. Even the Code of Jewish Law (Shulchan Aruch, Rama, Orach Chaim 299:10) mentions the healing powers of Miriam's well.
So what do we prefer, the lust and folly of this world together with earthquakes, or emuna and teshuva with the abundance of Miriam's well? Hashem is showing us that the choice is ours; He of course commands us and wants us to make the right choice (see Deuteronomy 30:19).