On The Contrary: R. Mosheh Lichtenstein: Reasons Not to Fast for Rain
«A. Lack of danger I will begin with a harsh statement that shows the absurdity, in my view, of fasting for rain nowadays: it is ludicrous to fast for rain while the sprinklers at the yeshiva, at the homes of its rabbis, of local residents, and of public gardens—here and everywhere else—operate as usual. How can we fast over a dearth of rain when we continue to water our ornamental garden? How can we open the aron kodesh and cry out about the lack of water when no serious effort has been made to minimize water consumption?!. More to the heart of the issue, masekhet Ta'anit addresses a reality in which a dearth of rainfall is, quite literally, life threatening. Fasting for rain is blatantly a prayer for survival. In a world without motorized transportation, the ability to transport food and water long distances, or refrigeration, lack of rain means famine, drought, and death, Rachmana litzlan. Without anything for man or beast to drink, without food or pasture, life is at risk. In the modern reality, however, in which water can be desalinated and food imported, the issue is no longer existence, but money or abundance. Desalination costs money, but it removes the mortal threat. In actuality, the country's prolonged water crisis is not a crisis of existence, but a crisis of standard of living. Were we to dry out the gardens and give up the swimming pools and sprinklers, we would lose important things that broaden man's mind, but we would not be putting our existence at risk. 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. Simply stated, fasting is a response to danger, and in the modern reality, the danger that was present in a lack of rain in the times of Chazal no longer threatens us.»
"Lack of danger - I will begin with a harsh statement that shows the absurdity, in my view"
Ponder the following:
Did the recent forest fire present a manifestation of
Was the danger to forests and lives ignored by focusing upon "trees" and not upon forests?
Therefore, are some rabbis today focusing upon minutia and thereby trivializing the "Big Picture"?