How to avoid meteors


NASA scientists “>tsimtsum, the Kabbalistic concept of a God who contracted from the world in order to create it; the “>told reporters why there had been no fatalities: “God directed danger away.” How grateful would he have been to that God if Chelyabinsk had looked more like Tunguska?  

But secularism sucks. It is hard to tell children that the universe is indifferent to them. It is unacceptable that chance changes everything all the time. It is difficult to tell ourselves the running story of our lives – to find meaning in our personal narratives – when the plot points come not from character or merit, but from rolls of the dice, bolts from the blue, madmen, freaks of nature, lousy luck.

There are of course rational ways to deal with this dilemma. We buckle up and drive defensively.  We buy insurance and earthquake kits. We exercise, wear sunscreen and eat kale.

There are spiritual ways, too – ones that don’t require twisting ourselves into theological pretzels. Knowing we may die tomorrow, we seize today, smell the roses, hug our children close. We count our blessings without positing a Blesser, thank our lucky stars without believing in fortune, fate or destiny.

Living well is the best revenge. I have friends whose toddler died suddenly of an undetected heart defect. “What do you do with that?” I asked the boy’s grieving father as, horrified, I fought thinking the unthinkable. “How do you go on? What do you learn? What do you do?” “Drink better wine,” he said.

There’s a poem by Rumi, the 13th-century Sufi mystic: 

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.

Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.

Don’t go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill


where the two worlds touch.


The door is round and open.

Don’t go back to sleep.

We are sleepwalkers, amnesiacs, oblivious of everyday miracles, comically reliant on benign biopsies and Siberian meteors to remind us to be mindful.

We’re about to learn whether Hurricane Sandy decisively awakened us to our planet’s manmade mortality. ““>Climate Central” piece explained, “many scientists believe another mass extinction is under way – this one entirely of our own making.”

No one can avoid living where a chunk of space rock explodes with the force of 10 Hiroshima bombs. But the causes of climate change, unlike the contingencies of the interstellar cosmos, are within our control. There remains to us a small window of time when we can still bend the curve of global warming. It will be a manmade miracle if we don’t go back to sleep.

Marty Kaplan is the “>USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Reach him at martyk@jewishjournal.com.