The earth shrugged, reducing a large city to ruins. The violent shuddering crumbled shanty and presidential palace alike, instantly killing untold thousands, and leaving behind many more grieving, homeless, and provisionless friends and relatives.

The ripples caused by the seismic tremors shook into action compassionate individuals and nations around the globe. Undoubtedly the silver lining behind this cataclysm is the resulting outpour of humanitarian aid streaming into the devastated nation of Haiti.

And for many a person of faith, the earthquake triggered a personal spiritual upheaval. A tragedy of such unthinkable proportions raises theological questions. Why does G‑d allow such suffering? To quote our Patriarch Abraham, "Will the Judge of all the world not do justice?"

The ground. Another one of those things we take for granted. When visiting a city, we admire the structures, the architecture, the locals, the cuisine, the culture... No one returns from vacation with the camera's memory card full of photos of the ground. Yet, it constitutes the base upon which everything rests. And as we sadly saw this past Tuesday, if there's a fault line somewhere deep down there, all the beauty that is above ground can come toppling down in a moment.

The spiritual analogue seems clear. The spiritual-minded individual spends his or her life developing beautiful and sophisticated structures. A beautiful building to house love for G‑d. Another mansion inhabited by compassion for all of G‑d's creations. A multi-roomed home for various virtuous values, and an intellectual edifice built out of an – albeit limited – understanding of G‑d's workings.

And then there's the ground upon which all these structures are situated. The spiritual soil consists of simple faith in G‑d and His all-encompassing goodness, and unwavering commitment to observing His instructions. There is nothing glamorous or sophisticated about these ground-qualities; they are accessible to scholar and simpleton alike. But only when the ground is secure and faultless, are all the buildings safe and secure.

My 86-year-old grandmother, Pearl Schulkind – may she live many years in good health – is the most remarkable woman I've ever met. (My wife, my grandmother's staunchest admirer, surely won't mind me saying that...)

She was born in Cracow, Poland, where she received virtually no Jewish education. She doesn't understand the prayers that she faithfully says every day. She lost both parents and all her siblings to the Nazis, may their names be blotted out, and she herself survived two years in Auschwitz and then the infamous death march. She once related to me how she witnessed a trainload of Jewish children being set afire and burned alive.

After the war she married my grandfather of blessed memory. She lost her first child to meningitis and more recently a grandson to a congenital disorder. She's been widowed twice.

If anyone has a right to question and complain, it would be her. But her faith in G‑d and commitment to Judaism has never faltered a moment.

Her advanced age is finally making its mark. Her spirit is strong, but her body is frail. Before this past Yom Kippur, I encouraged her to consider not fasting on the holy day. Perhaps she should consult with her doctor and rabbi... Her response was unequivocal: "On Yom Kippur a Jew fasts. Period." And fast she did.

And her mantra is (an English-Yiddish hybrid): "M'tur nisht complainen"—"One is not allowed to complain..."

The ground she inhabits is without a fault. I can only hope to emulate her example.

The questions are there. To attempt to answer them would be a pursuit in futility.

Is our ground stable enough to ensure that these questions don't topple all we've built?