UPDATE: Added the electric version of the song
It may seem like I'm a little late to the party, but I'm not. I've been thinking about Hurricane Katrina and her victims from the beginning. But I didn't know how to process it. It seemed horribly surreal to me. Like something out of a late late night movie. A giant storm of biblical proportions comes and wipes out a major US city. Hundreds or thousands are dead. Armed gangs of thugs roam the streets and shoot rescue workers. All it needed were the zombies to complete the picture.
So I sat in Shul the Shabbos after the storm and tried to comprehend that New Orleans was gone. That hundreds of thousands were homeless. And then someone got up to the bima and started chanting this Haftorah from Isaiah 54:
יא עֲנִיָּה סֹעֲרָה, לֹא נֻחָמָה; הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי מַרְבִּיץ בַּפּוּךְ, אֲבָנַיִךְ, וִיסַדְתִּיךְ, בַּסַּפִּירִים.
11 O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will set thy stones in fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.
יג וְכָל-בָּנַיִךְ, לִמּוּדֵי יְהוָה; וְרַב, שְׁלוֹם בָּנָיִךְ.
13 And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.
And then a little later on, this:
א הוֹי כָּל-צָמֵא לְכוּ לַמַּיִם, וַאֲשֶׁר אֵין-לוֹ כָּסֶף; לְכוּ שִׁבְרוּ, וֶאֱכֹלוּ
1 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye for water, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat;
And I sat back, and I was floored. Now, I don't pretend to read any supernatural connotations into this. I'm not one of those who gets up and says New Orleans was destroyed because it was full of sinners, or because I didn't make it to Minyan enough times this week. I don't know the ways of the Almighty. He has His reasons for everything that happens on this world and they are not usually clear to us down here.
But I was just amazed at how topical (once again) the Haftorah was. And this is not a prophecy of doom and destruction. It is a prophecy of comfort. Yes, you have suffered greatly. Yes, you have lost all that you had. But it will be rebuilt. We will help you. If you need food or water, come, and we'll give it to you.
We are all disciples of the Lord. Let's start acting like it and seek peace.
So I wrote the following song. This is the acoustic version, just me singing and playing guitar. A fuller version with the whole band is coming.
Video from 11/06: