DAY 1461: It’s My Fault There’s No Fireworks Tonight

July 1, 2016
By bethmordecai
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DAY 1461: It’s My Fault There’s No Fireworks Tonight

Dear Hevreh,

It’s my fault that fireworks are not happening tonight. One of the organizers asked me to pray that rain would not fall tonight, and though I did offer a prayer, it didn’t help; the weather forecast is too inclement for the fireworks to happen tonight. They’ve been rescheduled for tomorrow and I hope the organizer doesn’t ask me to offer a prayer for those fireworks – I don’t want it to backfire.

Before you write me a note saying “to not take your prayers so seriously” or that “you really didn’t cause this,” just know that I wrote the previous paragraph with the proverbial tongue in my cheek. I recognize that prayer doesn’t necessarily work in that way we most often desire it to work – to ask for something and God to grant it. Indeed when I offered the prayer I started by saying “God, I don’t think you act in this way, but if there’s anything You can do, please stop it from raining tonight.” I didn’t expect anything to happen, but there’s no harm in trying.

Prayers like these, which are often uttered when you lose complete control over a situation, imagine that we have some element of control over the Divine. If we wish it to be, God can make it happen. But I think there’s something more to it than just that. I believe that we have a connection to the Divine, that God cares about us because some part of us – big or small – cares about God. Our rational mind tells us that this feeling of connection is made up within us, but that does not necessarily mean it’s not real. We care about connections and the ones we make with people, places, and things that seem most “other” (like the Divine) seem to be the sign and seal of the presence of something greater than ourselves. In fact that’s why I’m so disappointed “my prayer didn’t work”. Watching the fireworks celebrating the most diverse nation in the world unified with the diverse people of Perth Amboy would confirm the words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel that “divine is a message that discloses unity where we see diversity” (Man is Not Alone, 109).

Oh well. No one is perfect ;-).

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Ari Saks

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