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Published by: outdash2 on Aug 11, 2014
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Derech HaTeva
Ilana Ickow
ou are on a cruise, spending your days enjoying tender prime rib, tanning on the ship’s sun-drenched deck, and playing competitive games of ping-pong in one of the arcades. As you stroll to breakfast one clear, sunny morning, a drop of water falls on your head. Dismissing it as mist from the ocean, you walk on, following your nose towards the scent of fresh fruit and frying omelets. Suddenly, the wind begins to howl, the skies open up, and gigantic drops of rain pour down, soaking all the passengers on the ship’s deck. As you dash towards the dining room, you are thrown to and fro as the boat rocks in the stormy seas. The captain’s call for passengers to
evacuate the deck is mufed by rumbles of thunder, and safety lights are overpowered by ashes of lightning. After nally reaching the dining room, you peer out one of
the windows. Between monstrous waves splashing against the glass, you catch a glimpse of the sea and are shocked by what you
nd. A short distance away, the waters are calm, the sun is shin
-ing, and other ships are proceeding peacefully on course. The prophet
 experienced a similar phenomenon. He left Israel to “run from before G-d” and boarded a ship heading to
 1:3). However,
 never reached
, since G-d sent “
ruach gedola el hayam 
,” “a great wind to the sea,”  which resulted in a “
sa’ar gadol bayam 
,” “a great storm in the sea”
 1:4). The passengers subsequently cast lots to determine
b’shelmi hara’ah hazos 
,” “because of whom did this bad occur?”
 1:7) The lots revealed that
 was the culprit, so the passengers, observing that the seas grew stormier, tossed
 overboard. The
 1:7) asked an obvious question:  Why did the travelers assume that the storm raged as a result of one of the travelers on their boat? Weren’t other boats on the sea also suffering? The
Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer 
 who related that when passengers on
’s boat looked to their right
and left, they saw other boats oating peacefully. Only one boat
 was engulfed by the storm -
’s. Similarly, at
 Matan Torah 
, the giving of the Torah, in the Sinai Desert, the Torah describes the scene, “
Vayehi kolos u’vrakim v’anan kaved al hahar 
,” “There was thunder and lightning, and a heavy cloud on the mountain” ( 
 19:16). This storm, similar to
that in the book of
, occurred over so small a width that it  was concentrated only over one mountain. In this case, however, the storm occurred in a desert and not at sea.Is it possible to explain these localized storms described in
Shemos b’derech hateva 
, according to the laws of nature?  Yes, these storms may well have been microbursts, local storms generally less than one mile in width [1] and consisting of winds over 100 mph [2]. A microburst is a small but powerful storm
that develops in three stages: In the rst stage, the contact stage,
air is forced downward from the clouds, accelerates, and reaches the ground. In the second stage, the outburst stage, the wind, after reaching the ground, diverges and curls outward. In the last stage, the cushion stage, these diverging wind gusts deceler-ate as a result of friction with the ground. This slowing of the  winds as they move away from the microburst may explain why
microbursts are conned to a very small area. The winds of a
microburst are extremely dangerous due to their unexpected and rapid development and extraordinary speed. Additionally, the di- vergent air creates a vortex, or horizontal spiral of wind, powerful enough even to uproot trees much like a tornado [3].Microbursts form through a mechanism called evaporative cooling. In this process, hot air rises, cools as it rises, and con-denses into clouds. As the clouds become saturated, rain begins to fall. As rain falls from the clouds, it travels through drier air.  The drier air causes some of the rain to evaporate, absorbing heat from the air and cooling it. The cool air is denser than warmer air, so it falls, accelerating until it reaches the ground. During the contact stage of a microburst, this downward air, called a down-burst, eventually hits the ground. After reaching the ground, the outburst stage begins when the downburst diverges horizontally
Is it possible to explain these localized
storms described in Yonah and Shemos b’derech hateva, according to the laws of nature?

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