What caused the strange swerve in Hurricane Irma’s path?

What caused the strange swerve in Hurricane Irma's path?


Hurricanes are notoriously unpredictable, but even with that introduction that strange, last minute ‘swerve’ that Hurricane Irma took to avoid Miami still ranks as one of the major unexplained phenomena of the year.

As the hurricane drew closer and closer to Florida’s east coast on Friday September 8th 2017, all the models were predicting a direct hit on the city of Miami – with devastating consequences.

While Rav Berland was in exile, he’d set up a branch of the Shuvu Banim yeshiva in Miami. Students at the Miami yeshiva called the Rav up motzae Shabbat, September 9th, 2017, to ask the Rav to pray for them.

The Rav immediately asked his followers in Jerusalem to recite a Tikkun HaKlali (General Remedy) specifically for Miami, and to especially have Miami in mind the verse in Chapter 32:6 which reads: “Just that the mighty, flooding waters shouldn’t reach to him.”

Next thing the forecasters knew, Hurricane Irma hung a sharp left, skipped past Miami and Florida’s East coast – and smashed straight into the state’s West coast instead, which hadn’t seen a hurricane of any real size since 1921.

Twenty five percent of the houses in the area were completely destroyed, as the area sustained some severe devastation from Hurricane Irma.

Meanwhile, back in Miami the winds were starting to pick up again, so again the worried students at the Shuvu Banim yeshiva in Miami, not all of whom were willing or able to evacuate, called back the Rav for more chizzuk (strengthening) and advice.

The Rav told them that the winds – which were becoming increasingly wild and dangerous – wouldn’t get stronger than 75 mph (120 km/h), and that the hurricane would pass over all the houses of Torah learning in Miami. This despite forecasts for Miami that put the wind speed at a much higher velocity, and also forecast a tornado hitting the area that would see winds of up to 300 km/h.

(You can hear the Rav saying these words yourself, in Hebrew, by playing the recording below):

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After the event, it become clear that the winds in Miami itself had never topped 72 mph – exactly as the Rav had promised. While Florida still sustained enormous damage, especially on its West coast, Miami and the East coast missed the ‘eye of the storm’, and came through the ordeal in relatively good shape.

After Hurricane Harvey – which wreaked havoc on Houston, America’s 4th largest city – but before Hurricane Irma struck, the Rav brought down the following section in Likutey Moharan where Rebbe Nachman explained the deeper reason behind the hurricanes – and amazingly, even pinpointed it to happen in Parshat Shoftim.

In Likutey Moharan I:11, in the original Hebrew it says:

וְזֶהוּ: ‘לְמָתָא יַרְקָא’ לַמְּקוֹמוֹת שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לַעֲשֹוֹת תְּשׁוּבָה. ‘יַרְקָא’ הוּא בְּחִינַת תְּשׁוּבָה, כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמְרוּ בַּמִּדְרָשׁ (בְּרֵאשִׁית רַבָּה פָּרָשָׁה מג):
“וַיָּרֶק אֶת חֲנִיכָו” אוֹרִיקָן בְּפָרָשַׁת שׁוֹפְטִים, הַיְנוּ שֶׁזֵּרְזָם לַעֲשֹוֹת תְּשׁוּבָה, כִּי פָּרָשַׁת שׁוֹפְטִים נֶאֱמַר עַל תְּשׁוּבָה: “מִי הָאִישׁ הַיָּרֵא וְרַךְ הַלֵּבָב” ‘הַיָּרֵא מֵעֲבֵרוֹת שֶׁבְּיָדוֹ’
The English translation reads:
“This is the yarka market – to the places in which a person needs to repent.  Yarka alludes to repentance, as the Midrash says (Genesis Rabbah 43:2): ‘I will empty them out (spelled Hurricane)  in Parashas Shoftim, that he encouraged them to do teshuva’, for repentance is mentioned in the Torah section of Shoftim.”
Rebbe Nachman, and subsequently Rav Berland were demonstrating a clear link between the ‘hurricane’ that would develop at the time of the Parashas Shoftim and the need to make teshuva.

According to Wikipedia:

“Irma developed on August 30, 2017 near the Cape Verde Islands, from a tropical wave that had moved off the west African coast three days prior.[1][2][3] ” Just three short days before Wednesday, August 30 every Jewish community had read Parashas Shoftim on the preceding Shabbat.
At the time of writing, Hurricane Jose is now being touted as a possible additional threat to the North East coast of America. Hashem is clearly sending the world many clear signals that we need to make teshuva – and fast.
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