One year after the earthquake in Haiti, which killed 200,000 people, I have to remind myself that natural disasters are not punishments from God. Although there is no shortage of clergy, Jewish, Christian, or other, who will say even today that the people of Haiti or New Orleans or the Jews of Poland merited their fate through bad behavior, this is not a theology that I can embrace.
The God that I know and praise does not work that way. Even though the Torah and rabbinic Judaism is rife with such thinking, I am certain that God is a good God, and does not mete out collective punishment.
The only way to account for such natural disasters is that God's Creation contains a certain dose of randomness, incorporated into the design. To credit God with wanton destruction today does not fit into my understanding of God.