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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Everyone has their own version of a rain dance

A cowboy proverb of long standing that would be pretty hard to dispute (based on empirical evidence, anyway) goes as follows:

'Timing has an awful lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance' 

With all due respect to the 'Great Father' of Native American religions, I have a little fathering experience of my own... and I can assure you that my mood at any given moment has as much to do with whether my kids' requests get granted as the content and/or framing of their requests. 

So I have to believe that when we beseech G-d for rain, his current disposition towards us probably has as much to do with whether the skies are going to open up as the specifics of whatever fancy prayers or dances we might offer up.

Gilad and I studied all of the section of the Talmud dealing with fasts (Masechet Ta'anit) during the year leading up to his Bar Mitzvah, much of which deals with public fasts in times of drought.  It contains lengthy discussions and debates over when fasts should be declared, what types of rain are good and bad, who should fast, how long fasts should go on, what happens if someone wants to end a fast early, etc..

Fascinating stuff, but I treated it as purely an academic exercise since I couldn't imagine modern Rabbinic leaders declaring a public fast over lack of rain in our day and age.  Silly me.

It seems that Sephardic Chief Rabbi (Rishon LeTzion) Shlomo Amar has declared tomorrow to be a public fast due to growing signs that another winter is about to pass with far less rain than is needed to provide the country with desperately needed water.

Personally, I think that encouraging Jews to treat one another with just a modicum of 'Derech Eretz'  (i.e. with respect... and maybe even love) would go much further to appeasing G-d in the face of withheld blessings such as rain. 

But then, who am I to argue with a Chief Rabbi?

So yes, I'm planning on fasting... and I encourage others to do the same if they are able. 

But I have also taken an additional step to bring on the rains:  Last night I had my car detailed.  That, more than other single thing I know, has been proven to bring precipitation within 24-48 hours.

Everyone has their own version of the rain dance.

Posted by David Bogner on January 13, 2010 | Permalink

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Here in the Land of Lake Effect Snow That Just Won't Quit, schoolchildren everywhere perform the Snow Day Ritual every night before bed:

You carefully put your pajamas on backwards. You then put socks on your hands, turn off the lights, dance around your bed 3 times chanting, "Snow Day, Snow Day, Snow Day" and then sleep in your bed (pajamas backwards, socks on your hands) with your head at the foot of the bed.

I am NOT making this up. I would video tape my children doing this if they would let me. Apparently recording it destroys its powers. Ahem. So far, the Gods of School Snow Days have turned a deaf ear to the supplicants. I mentioned that perhaps a snow-man sacrifice was in order, or an addition to their daily shacharit prayers (mo-reed ha Sheleg). They did not think this was funny.

;-)

Posted by: Leah Weiss Caruso | Jan 13, 2010 6:22:14 PM

When we lived in New York, one winter my husband decided to buy a snow blower. It didn't snow for four years after that....

Posted by: Baila | Jan 13, 2010 8:14:41 PM

This is exactly the message of Isaiah 58 (start from verse 3)
Which is also why it is read on Yom Kippur in the morning!

Posted by: Raz | Jan 13, 2010 10:09:36 PM

Cf. also my father and I, and our favorite line from "Little Big Man": "sometime the magic works; and sometimes it doesn't"

Posted by: Wry Mouth | Jan 14, 2010 4:54:24 AM

The perfect formula perhaps (B"H). The world will be improved for it, for certain. I will join you.

Posted by: Kae Gregory | Jan 14, 2010 6:54:57 AM

You know, every day, at least twice a day, we repeat the formula that God gave us:
If we listen, and do the right thing, God will provide the right amount of rain for our land (Israel), and we will reap our harvests of grain, and wine, and oil. And, basically, everything will be good.

BUT, if we don't listen, and we stray from the path, then God will close the heavens and there will be no rain, and the land will not produce, and we will lose the land that God gave us.

If we take a look at what is going on in our country:
the prohibition of Jews building homes (i.e. the building freeze) and the destruction of Jewish homes (ibid.) and the opening of our roads to Arab terrorists (i.e. necessary access) resulting in yesterday's stoning on highway 443, less than a kilometer from MODI'IN (NOT Ramalah, as reported in yesterday's papers, with the intention of minimizing the significance and general danger of the attacks), etc.

We might come to the conclusion that rather than a national fast day, what we need is a different government and different national priorities.

Maybe the Rabbis should organize something more effective, that will result in actual changes in Israel, which might just bring us closer to fulfilling our side of the formula, which, if we do it right, will result in God fulfilling His part.

If we fast every days, but allow Jewish homes to be destroyed and Jewish drivers to be stoned, injured, and killed, then we do not deserve the rain.

Posted by: RivkA | Jan 14, 2010 9:37:38 AM

LWC: Oh! The mental image your description conjures.... ROTFLMAO! You have to try to capture that on film so that you can one day show your grand-kiddies how hilarious their parents were!

RivkA: Sad because it's true....

Posted by: zahava | Jan 14, 2010 1:57:04 PM

It never fails. I make a hair appointment, and it rains. If the Chief Rabbi wants to buy me a business class ticket, I'd be happy to flyover for a blowout. Of course, business class! If I'm coming over to do a mitzva, I should suffer in coach??

Posted by: Marsha in Englewood | Jan 15, 2010 5:50:32 AM

Well, it took a few days, but it looks like the fast... or your carwash... or my watering the garden... or ??? actually worked.

;-)

Posted by: wogo | Jan 18, 2010 8:33:07 AM

I will diplomatically keep mum on the subject of Rabbi Shlomo Amar, whom I met personally. Be proud! It is hard.

Posted by: Lioness | Jan 18, 2010 1:48:07 PM

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