Every time I wanted to play golf, In America, Before i came to Israel, I had to check the weather report. Why? because if you wash your car, plan a picnic, or plan to play golf...anything...you had to figure it would rain. Not so in Israel.And today, there was a call, though not universal, for fasting today, in Israel. Why? Because, we are suffering the worst rain shortage in 48 years.
It's funny, i always had learned that my revenues were connected to the abundance of rain, and I've certainly seen a correlation....when it rains, people hunker down, and then call me...because they're stuck in the house, and they see things that need fixing, leaky windows notwithstanding. But even after it rains, I've always seen an increase in calls and revenues. Our prayer, the Shema states ".....if you obey My commandments that I command you this day to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all Your heart and with all your soul, then will I send the rain for your land in its season.....Be careful that your heart be not tempted and you turn away to serve other gods and bow to them. For then God will be furious with you and will block the heavens and there will be no rain and the land will not yield its produce."Sounds good , right? Can't go wrong; if you do the right thing, you get Divine reward.
Well, it does say "...in its season...." which made me think, that the world has changed drastically since this was eternally written, and seasons are all out of whack. What we've come to think as the proper rainy season may now have changed, and it may be a shortened season, and when the rains DO come, they will be fitting for that season, and maybe only enough to get us by to the next season.
So, today's fast could arguably be seen as showing a lack of Faith in G-d, that when the rain does come, it was at its time. Patience, oh, patience, G-d says.Faith comes by in many opportunities. When you expect your paycheck to be ready on first of the month, but the employer didn't ready it till the 8th, it wasn't in your hands, and no amount of foot-shifting will bring up the date, and if your bank holds your checks, you have shown remarkable fortitude and faith. G-d sends you what you need, not necessarily what you want.
Now this "Fast', which was unofficially declared today, for rain, was enacted to open the heavens, and give us our needed rain. But if people are watering their lawns,flowers, using dishwashers(maybe they are better users of water, but not energy), taking 2 showers a day, having cars washed...filling public swimming pools, and refilling them.. you get it; we may not be really seeing a critical shortage.
In fact, what we may be seeing, is that the number crunchers have predicted that if we continue as we do, that we will reach critical mass, and THEN we will have a critical shortage. Having faith means be careful, but haShem hasn't passed on the judgment yet.. we can still wash dishes, shower, and fill our glasses, yes, even buy 6 packs of bottled water. I think this what Rav Moshe Lichtenstein was referring to when he wrote his short piece on accepting today's fast."Therefore, to a large degree, the issue is one of lifestyle, which warrants our hoping for more rain, but does not justify decreeing a fast because there is not sufficient water to maintain the present standard of living."
In reality, I don't believe that fasting will do the trick. It's really foxhole repentance. That doesn't last long, and it just feels cathartic. What I see is really needed is that which has been bothering me in a personal way for a long time. Each person needs to accept his own personal "tikun", change, and on a community level, that would bring a worldwide change for us, and Eretz Yisrael. See We can bring rain, on Facebook, and see what I mean.
On my own personal level, I think that for me, and probably many others, I have drifted away from that which was so spiritually easy before we built a family...a BIG family. I could go to synagogue or learn Torah, and I didn't have to go anywhere. There were no bills, or transactions to make. My concentration was so focused. I didn't have to be anywhere, and even with one or two children, life was very slow-paced, and my capacity to absorb material, and process , perceive, and make it part of me. Now, have a list running through my head that seems as long as a dictionary, and I squeeze in prayer, blessings, and ritual in the shortest possible time. Workdays are long, and sometimes, even with a nap, I can't extend my day to make room for spirituality, except for the things that I have based my life on. Breakfast with the kids, getting them out, after coming home from prayer, with a "did you remember to take all you needed , and did you wear tzitzit?(fringed garment)" with a hug and kiss...hopefully that carries into the day, and they'll remember that their parents love them, and the basis of that send off IS Torah.
But, adding to my own cache of Torah learning, and character-building shouldn't have stopped with child #12, but rather I should be parceling out time for ME.
ME. G-d knows who I am. Father. Husband. handyman, Rabbi, karate man, builder....pick one. All husbands assume multiple roles. All mothers multi-task. I think that to bring the rain means for me to bring it..To garner all my internal forces and become a Torah builder. I think I, we, need to shift focus, and consider that a little selfish time for myself, even if it pushes off those daily needs, for 15 minutes can mean the difference between plenty or drought. If my own personal spiritual drought exists, then surely the physical world must mirror that.HaShem created a physical world for man to perfect, in a spiritual way. Some people naturally possess great character I have to work at it, and I haven't reached my goal. Ask anybody...well...don't ask my kids...Fasting won't do it. I just get a headache , and think about twinkies. But making myself a better person,worthy of HaShems's love certainly would go a long way in trying to bring the rain.Joining hands and singing Kumbaya won't do it either. It's so easy to say "I Love everybody.." but that singular feeling is a sound-byte.
Time for Dov to step back and reorganize , and re-evaluate. Like doing a daily Rosh Hashonnah. I do love my family, and Eretz Yisrael. I do love what Hashem has given me, and all of us. But, and I think this is the message of the lack of rain, that we all need to put more into what we give back, and that requires real investment in applying the message of the Torah. I don't even know what that means, but I'm going to make an attempt to implement real change to bring the rain.