Israel´s Top Rabbi: ´G-d Is Angry´; Tidal Waves Kill 3 Israelis

Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar commented on the catastrophe in southeast Asia, saying we must increase good deeds and pray for Divine mercy. Three Israeli victims have been identified.

, | updated: 1:12 PM

Israel's Chief Sephardi Rabbi Amar was asked, among other questions, about the situation of "agunah" - a woman who is apparently widowed but unable to marry again because there is no proof of her husband's death. He said that a special rabbinical court will be established to "deal with the problem, hear all the details and remove the status of 'aguna.'"

The earthshaking disaster in southeast Asia shows that "G-d is angry" and that "we must pray more and ask for mercy," Rabbi Amar told the Ynet website. "The nations of the world are obligated to observe the seven Noahide laws, such as prohibitions against murder and illicit relations... The deaths are very painful."

No one should mourn for those who are missing until the rescue missions stop trying to find victims, the rabbi added. Israeli rescue teams are planning to remain in the region for at least another few days for this purpose.

Seven Israelis still are missing, after three others have been identified as victims of the earthquake's giant waves. As opposed to the world-wide flood at the time of Noah, the latest "Divine anger," as Rabbi Amar described it, was focused on southeast Asia, where the continuously rising number of victims has climbed past 135,000.

According to eyewitnesses, at least five of the seven missing were caught in the tidal waves and probably died. Five were in Thailand and two in Sri Lanka. Names of two of the identified victims were released: Hemda Cohen (female), 55, of Rishon LeTzion, and Sharon Haliel (male), 22, from Gan Yavneh, a small city neighboring the southern side of Rishon LeTzion. Another victim was 11-month-old Matan Nesima, whose Belgian-Israeli parents buried him Thursday at the Mt. of Olives cemetery in Jerusalem. He was killed when a huge wave swept him out of the hotel room where he and his parents were staying.

Hundreds of Israelis around the country cried sighs of relief and prayers for thanks when they learned their relatives survived. Earlier this week, many hundreds of Israelis were unaccounted for, but the number dropped hourly, in contrast to the constantly rising six-figure number of those killed.

Israeli teams praised the officials of Thailand who have been working "very methodically." Israeli police and the Zaka volunteer organization, a hareidi group that specializes in identifying disaster and terror victims, are working against time to locate and identify bodies before they are buried on the spot. Forensic specialists have collected DNA samples from the families of the missing and are comparing them with samples of victims.

The teams from Israel "have turned over every stone," said Hilik Magnus, director of the rescue unit that works for the Phoenix insurance company. "We are not giving up, and still hope to hear from [those who are missing]. We have seen those who returned to Israel and are happy for those whose children returned."

People of other nations were envious of the Israeli efforts to find its citizens. "The Swedish people are asking their government why it isn't acting like Israel," said Nissim Ben-Sheetrit, a deputy director-general of the Foreign Ministry. He said that his office managed to reduce the number of missing Israelis from close to 2,000 to 17 in three days. "If that doesn't tell the story of how much work we have done, then I don't know what it says."