Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinberg, leader of the Orthodox Union, is out with an inspiring op-ed carried by JTA about how we as Jews should respond to massive disasters. It’s well worth a read.

In it he grapples with the question that is always unanswerable, though it is the subject of milennia of soul-searching and at least one book: Why do bad things happen to the innocent. In dealing with this subject in the past, I have put my foot in my mouth as many others, including Pat Robertson, have by trying to come up with a rational explanation when there clearly is none, at least in this world. In lieu of one, too many people make what they see as the logical leap that people who are suffering have done something to deserve it, or that they are paying the price for the sins of others, present or past.

Rabbi Weinreb’s take: “Our tradition insists that we “shelve” [this] type of question. Judaism insists instead that we ask the question of the second type. We must inquire as to the response that God requires of us. And to that inquiry the answer is powerful and clear: See! Feel! Act!”