Sorry, Mel Gibson. I did it. The rain was my fault.
Scholars note that prayers for rain are among the earliest liturgical texts and that the Bible regards the withholding of rain as a punishment from God (cf. Deut. 11:11–17; I Kings 17:1).
Just as there are four seasons in Southern California (earthquake, wind, mudslides, fire), there are four seasons in Jewish folk tradition. Unlike the secular seasons (fall, winter, spring, summer), all four Jewish seasons are compressed into one month.
The month is called Tishrei. The Jewish calendar is moon-based and complicated, but the month of Tishrei dates between late August through early October on the secular calendar.
The four Jewish seasons are clouds, heat, cold and rain. They begin on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. In La Cañada, families travel long distances to reconnect, socialize and eat during Rosh Hashanah. To make the commute more interesting, it usually drizzles. The clouds do this so that no one can go swimming and also to give us false hope that the weather will stay cool for Yom Kippur.
Yom Kippur, the day of atonement and intensive prayer, includes a 25-hour fast. The services are long, the fast is difficult and time moves slowly. Sometimes the air conditioning breaks down. Cool weather on Yom Kippur makes for an easy fast, but in my experience, the thermometer invariably rises into the triple digits. This gives us the false hope that the weather will stay hot for Sukkot.
Sukkot is an eight-day festival which begins four days after Yom Kippur. If it is hot on Yom Kippur, maybe it will be hot for Sukkot. On Sukkot, traditional Jews build flimsy structures out of cloth, covered with palm fronds. This reminds us of the fragility of life. Tradition says that the moon must be visible through the palm fronds.
The weather? Right. Each year, the hot sun of Yom Kippur sets and the cold winds of Sukkot enter. Just as it rarely rains on the Rose Parade, it always rains during Sukkot, preferably the first night, when families gather. This year, however, we had rain at the beginning and the heat wave at the end.
The heat wave ended suddenly last Friday, with the weird thunderstorms. Mea culpa. The day before, we said a special prayer. We say it once a year. It's tradition.
A prayer for rain.
2010 Tower of Tuna count, as of Tuesday: 5. Don't forget to deliver cans of tuna to the Valley Sun office, 727 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada. As the holidays arrive, the cans will be taken to the North Hollywood Interfaith Food Pantry to be distributed to families in need.
ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is a longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident and an attorney with Law Offices of Torres and Brenner in Pasadena. E-mail her at email@example.com.