Don’t get me wrong . . . I wish this wasn’t happening. But Hurricane Sandy is coming to my neighborhood, and there is nothing I can do to stop her.

As I sit here and type, I am trying to come to terms with the fact that I may very soon be without power for up to 10 days. And I type because it forces me to try to find some meaning, some lesson, in what we are experiencing.

The Baal Shem Tov teaches us that a leaf does not fall to the ground without reason, and that one leaf’s movement has a ripple effect on all of humanity. So, being that I am watching thousands of leaves blow by my window (which I am debating if I should tape or not), there must be a lot of meaning flying around.

Hurricane Sandy is coming to my neighborhood, and there is nothing I can do to stop herI woke up this morning to a call from a friend in the area, telling me the updates and some tips for preparing. Then a text came through from my neighbor suggesting we fill bags of water to freeze, so we can keep our food cold if we lose power. By the time I logged into Facebook, it was filled with ideas, comments, news reports and offers of help from friends both near and far.

Later I ran next door to bring another neighbor a big jug for water. She is a nursing mother, and didn’t buy enough ahead of time. There is something about being in the same boat that helps put everything in perspective, and forces you to prioritize.

The radio shows went from making fun of callers, or playing practical jokes, to asking people to check in on those near them who might need help. When a hurricane approaches, it doesn’t matter how much money you have or how big your house is; it matters how many batteries and flashlights you have and how much non-perishable food is in your closets. A hurricane is a great equalizer.

For the past half-hour, my kids have been filling water bottles. When they said we had enough, I was able to teach them that even if we do, it could be someone else will need them. It's one thing when they put a coin in the tzedakah box; but when they fill a bottle in case someone else needs it, they really learn the meaning of helping another.

A hurricane is a great equalizerThis week’s Torah portion talks about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The cities were filled with hatred, theft, corruption and violence. But the sages explain that their cardinal sin was selfishness. The cities were destroyed because of how terribly they treated strangers. The commentaries even tell us that in the cities' guest houses, if someone was too tall for the bed, his feet would be cut off, and if someone was too short, he would be stretched. They had no concept of working with the strengths and weaknesses of others, or of working as a team.The Sodomites cared for no one but themselves.

As Hurricane Sandy approaches, it is true that there is nothing we can do to stop her. But we pray that her path be one that avoids homes, and harms no one in her way. Of course, we can prepare our homes and our families as much as possible.

But most importantly, we can use this time to think about those around us. We can take the opportunity to spend quality time with our families. Really, how often do we have a day or two stuck in the house with nothing to do? And once again, while I wish this wasn’t happening—being that it is, I hope at the very least that it will create a sense of unity and community, and a reminder of what really counts in life.

May Hurricane Sandy leave as fast as she came, and may we return to our “normal” lives that much more aware and that much more united.