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    Earthquakes & avalanches

    earthquake sand earthNo-one needs to tell us how dangerous it is to be caught up in an earthquake or avalanche.

    Not that they are modern occurrences. Already in the time of the Temple there was a Yom Kippur prayer that for the people of Sharon their houses should not become their graves.

    Sharon was a region menaced by shifting sands. Even a minor catastrophe could wreck their homes. According to the Talmud they often had to rebuild twice in seven years. No wonder the high priest had to say a special prayer for their well-being.

    In modern times that sort of prayer rises in our hearts whenever we think of certain vulnerable parts of the world. The prayer also has a metaphorical sense, because when the quality of home life is fragile every family is at risk.

    In the rabbinical terminology of the commentators (see Rashi on the end of Parashat Chayyei Sarah), the stable home is like the tent of Sarah. A cloud is entwined around the entrance. The doors are open wide. A blessing rests on the bread. A light shines from one Sabbath eve to the next. Everything is done in purity (Midrash Gen. Rabba 60:15).

    The marks of Sarah’s tent were a protective cloud of love and contentment; a spirit of hospitality, friendship and humanity; a sanctified table; a hallowed Sabbath; a sense of purity, trust and discipline in family life.

    The prophet says, “Who will despise the day of small things?” (Zech. 4:10). These are the small things that give a home stability and prevents it, metaphorically at least, from caving in and collapsing.

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