How does the Rav explain the significance of the repeated earthquakes in Turkey [August 17th 1999 and November 12th 1999]?
And the earthquake in San Francisco? And the earthquakes in Central America? All over the world there have been earthquakes. And the answer is this: “Ein pur’onee’os bah li’olam elah bi’shvil Yisroel.” Everything is done only because of Yisroel. And therefore we are the ones who are expected to learn from these events. Rashi there says, “Kidei li’yari’um,” – in order that we, Yisroel, should become afraid. Yes, the earthquake in Turkey came in order that we should become afraid – more afraid – of Hashem. Look, we have to learn to be afraid of Hashem. And it’s much more pleasant to learn yiras shamayim through the troubles that Hashem brings upon the goyim in far-off countries than having to learn it from something closer to home. But we have to make sure to learn the lesson. We have to. And when it’s closer to home, then surely we have to learn. When a plane falls into the ocean and over two hundred people are killed it’s a terrible event and we must take it to heart. [The Rav was referencing EgyptAir Flight 990 which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean with 212 people on board on October 31,1999] We have to understand that Hashem brought together people whom he had sentenced to death and He gave them tickets on that plane. Hakodosh Boruch Hu is, “ma’arich apei vi’govah di’lei.” He waits patiently but sooner or later He collects the debt. Hashem is patient. A person does a sin and Hashem says, “Wait, wait. I’m giving you time – a chance to repent.” But if you’re not utilizing the chance then the time will come. So Hakodosh Boruch Hu gathered together all these customers and put them on one plane. That’s what happened. And it was done “ki’dei li’yari’um,” like Rashi says. To make us afraid so that we should do teshuva.