The last couple days of Sukkot are the wild Jewish rain dance our Sunday School teachers never told us about. In California right now, we could really use a good rain dance.
The sanctimonious internet class has become quite fond of calling other people idiots for offering “thoughts and prayers” in response to the never-ending chain reaction of emergencies and tragedies. In one of those deep ironies internet sanctimony tends to bring along with it, both sides of this tweet-length argument could be accused of tweeting instead of doing something meaningful.
Indeed, when people tweet “My thoughts and prayers are with TK NAME OF DISASTER AREA,” it does ring as a bit cliché. But I daresay actually praying can effect much more than can be effected by tweeting at people to tell them not to do it.
What does — or what could — praying in 5778 (a.k.a. 2017 Darkness Standard Time) look like? Like, if we were to pray for rain in California to quench these awful fires, what would it do?
It would focus our attention on people who need help — and how easily we could become them.
It would call to mind our responsibility to protect the environment — and of the consequences when we lose our focus.
It would bond together a network of people with shared civic intentions — and remind us how much better that feels than a fractious, antisocial culture.
And it would probably make us believe just a little bit more that it might actually rain — and whether it does or not, it’s a safe bet that being hopeful is more productive than being fearful.
That’s the least praying could do.
So I’m going to say the prayer for rain at the end of Sukkot — and a bunch of other prayers — and after that, I think I’ll have a better idea what to do next.