26 August 2015

Jewish "Prepping"

11 Elul 5775

With all the talk of doomsday rampant in the world today comes the logical question - what should I do to prepare? What and how much? "Prepping" or preparing to survive the "end of the world as we know it" by stockpiling food, water and emergency supplies has become a big business and a popular topic for discussion. The gentiles who are into "prepping" say the more the better. Some have gone so far as to build secure enclaves with like-minded neighbors in anticipation of the troubles to come from a world that is falling apart - economically, socially, and even geophysically. 

So, what about the Jews? Where do we fit in? What does our vast storehouse of knowledge advise us to do at such a time as this? As usual, there are several schools of thought. There are the two extremes of "do nothing and leave it all up to Hashem" and "follow the ways of the gentiles and go all out". But, I believe the middle ground - the balance of the two - is the wisest and most halachicly sound advice.

A few years ago, when it seriously looked like there was going to be an attack on Iran, the rabbis told people to stock up food and water for two weeks. Several times, in the facilitated communication sessions, the autistic children were asked about this subject and they also consistently advised having two weeks of supplies on hand. Recently, Binyamin gave us a clue as to how we should understand this...

Q. So has the time come now to gather food like in Greece citizens are now hoarding quantities of food?

A. I've said the whole time: you can keep some 'two weeks' of food so there will be a basis for a miracle, Hashem will make miracles for us. 

This reminded me of the miracle of the oil performed by the Prophet Elisha...

(II Kings 4.1-7)

Now a woman, of the wives of the disciples of the prophets, cried out to Elisha, saying, "Your servant, my husband, has died, and you know that your servant did fear the Lord; and the creditor has come to take my two children for himself as slaves."

And Elisha said to her, "What shall I do for you? Tell me what you have in the house." And she said, "Your maidservant has nothing at all in the house except a jug of oil."

And he said, "Borrow vessels for yourself from outside, from all your neighbors; do not borrow only a few empty vessels.

And you shall come and close the door about yourself and about your sons, and you shall pour upon all these vessels; and the full one you shall carry away."

And she went away from him and closed the door about herself and about her sons; they were bringing [vessels] to her and she was pouring.

And it was when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, "Bring me another vessel," and he said to her, "There is no other vessel." And the oil stopped.

And she came and told the man of God: and he said, "Go sell the oil and pay your debt; and you and your sons will live with the remainder."

The widow's supply of oil was her "basis" for a miracle. And we could look for other examples, like Nachshon ben Aminadav's jumping into the Reed Sea was the "basis" for the miracle of the splitting of the sea. This world operates as a partnership between us and HKB"H. We do our "hishtadlut" - our own efforts - and Hashem matches and exceeds them. As has been discussed before, the amount of hishtadlut required from us is equal to our emunah in Hashem. The more we trust Him, the less we actually have to do, but we have to make some kind of minimal effort. In the case of "prepping" it appears to be "two weeks" worth.

Now, this applies to the Jews living in Eretz Yisrael, not because the Jews are different, but because Eretz Yisrael is not like all the other lands. I can't guarantee anyone that this will be the case in chu"lBinyamin went further in his message and said regarding putting aside two week's worth of food and water...

"... in Israel it won't be as bad as outside of it. Outside of Israel - that's something else. There, outside of Israel, it will be a mess..., it will be something terrible. In Israel it won't be so bad, but it will be bad enough, not like outside of Israel. Here, they need some one place to remain that in it will be their center..."

So, pray and seek Hashem's guidance and find a rav whom you can trust to advise you in your area of chu"l about what might be required there. But there, especially, some kind of preparation must be undertaken. Do not be fooled by the yetzer hara into thinking you can sit back and do absolutely nothing and Hashem will do it all for you. If you do that, I'm afraid you will be very disappointed in the outcome.