Rabbi's Unwitting Lesson in How Not To React to Nepal's Earthquake

As people worldwide mourn the devastation in Nepal, one rabbi posted a different reaction to Facebook:


The post appears to express the rabbi’s pleasure, if not glee, at the collapse of numerous temples throughout Nepal. The Israeli-born Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi is a popular “kiruv” rabbi—someone who specializes in attracting secular Jews to Orthodoxy. He lectures widely, and this Facebook page has 12,000 “likes” (his Hebrew-language page boasts another 53,000).
Mizrachi’s post this morning has already earned him some harsh rabbinical backlash, including from Rabbi Eliyahu Fink, until recently the rabbi of LA’s Pacific Jewish Center:

I wish that Mizrachi’s sentiments were a rarity. But sadly, he is heir to a long tradition of rabbis finding odd spiritual causes lurking behind natural disasters. For example, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the renowned former Chief Sefardic Rabbi of Israel, blamed 2005’s Hurricane Katrina on President Bush’s support for the Israeli evacuation of settlers from Gaza, as well as on the general fact that New Orleans is inhabited by “Blacks” who don’t learn Torah. (His remarks were emphatically condemned by the Anti-Defamation League).

So, pathetic as this is, I am not exactly shocked that Mizrachi would say something like that. Indeed, on other occasions Mizrachi has said that one may steal somebody else’s Buddha statue and smash it, and he explained that homosexuals are cursed by God with their urges because they chose to be gay in previous lives.

It’s tempting to compare Mizrachi’s attitude toward other faiths with that of ISIS, which has recently made a show of destroying ancient Babylonian statues and artifacts. In fact, just yesterday Mizrachi posted an image to Facebook showing the black ISIS flag, pointing out that ISIS’s slogan reflects an admirable radical monotheism, and adding in red: “May God save us from allowing murderers to be our teachers, God forbid.”

Yes, Rabbi Mizrachi, ISIS is outdoing us in the competitive field of religious zealotry. I am okay with that.

Reading Mizrachi’s disgusting comments on the catastrophe in Nepal, I feel more acutely the recent loss of my teacher, Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, who on many occasions rebuked those foolish rabbis who spoke as if they had a “direct line” to the mind of God. Mizrachi, whose website is called divineinformation.com, is a prime example.

May God spare us from more of his divine information.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

Author

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Rabbi's Unwitting Lesson in How Not To React to Nepal's Earthquake

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close