Each day during the winter season we pray Mashiv Haruach u’morid ha-gashem-who makes the wind to blow and the rains to fall. We are seeing the proof of that this week in California. Rain is coming from the heavens in such copious amounts that there is flooding and mudslides in areas that previously were part of major burn areas.
This has been the rainiest December in many years. One account said more rain than anytime on record. They call this storm a Pineapple Express. Tropical jet stream that starts in Hawaii and makes it way across the Pacific to the California shores.
Does God send the rains? Traditional Reform Jewish theology rejected that rain was a reward and drought a punishment. Even banishing the second paragraph of the V’ahavta because of this theological thread that runs through those that Biblical passage.
I think we have ample evidence in our day and time that the weather patterns have been disrupted by the effects of Global Warming and our impact upon our environment. So some places that need rain don’t get it and other places get too much. California has had drought conditions for many years as had Israel. This of course was one reason the fire spread in Israel during Chanukah. The Carmel Fire burned more than 3 million trees.
So why say the words “Who makes the winds to blow and rain to fall” if we reject that God is up there somewhere pulling the strings of minutiae and we have scientific evidence of our human impact on the world?
By ascribing the whole of creation to God or that force which we call God we recognize that even in nature we humans ought to be mindful of the forces of nature. We ought to remember that we need natures’ gifts of rains to feed our families. We need nature’s gifts of rain to quench our thirsts as rain replenishes our reservoirs and rivers and lakes.
When we pray the words are there to remind us of our relationship to nature and to harness the power of nature in a respectful way. Our role is to be partners with God in the stewardship of the earthly Garden, our planet home.
So I will still say “Mashiv Haruach u’morid hagashem” and reflect upon the rains that clean our air, fill our lakes and rivers and streams, and nourishes our soil.
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