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Without Warning

The international  scientific community was shocked by a recent ruling by an Italian court. Six Italian scientists were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to six years in prison for not providing timely and accurate warnings before an earthquake that destroyed the island of L'Aquila in 2009, causing nearly 300 deaths. The scientists were charged with providing false reassurance about the unlikelihood of an earthquake and of being criminally negligent in their interpretation and application of scientific data.

This ruling garnered wall-to-wall scientific condemnation. The opposing argument is that despite the significant advances in seismology and technology in general, we still do not have the tools to accurately predict exactly when and where an earthquake will strike, particularly considering the unexpected nature of these events. However, the protests were ineffective, and the scientists were sent to prison like common criminals.

Is this the beginning of a historical trend, of scientists being held accountable not just for what they predict but for what they fail to predict? The scientific journal “Nature” finds this ruling alarming, because it will cause scientists to stick to safe, predictable areas of research, thus impeding scientific progress.

However, it is possible that in the near future, many people will be charged with a similar “crime.” In Chassidic teachings it is written that when Moshiach arrives, people will come with complaints to those who knew about the impending Redemption. “Why did you not tell us that Moshiach was about to come? Why did you not give us an opportunity to prepare properly? Why did you not tell us that we need to first accept the rule of King Moshiach upon ourselves, in order to hasten his coming? Why did you deny us the great merit of bringing the Geulah closer through our own efforts?”

This complaint will be brought because once Moshiach comes, although it will be infinitely and eternally good for everyone, there will still be a feeling of loss. We will regret the loss of opportunities that we had while in exile, to serve G-d despite difficulties and challenges. When Moshiach comes, it will all come easily... and just for this reason, we will miss the days of exile and regret our lost opportunities.

There is a prophecy (Zecharia 14) that describes one of the stages before Moshiach's coming as a great earthquake. The Mount of Olives will split in two, and the dead who are buried there will come alive, even though no scientist can accurately predict exactly when or how this will occur.

We are confident that our preparations for Moshiach will transform any possible earthquake into  tremors of joy and perfect happiness.
 

 


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