Earlier this week, there was a lot of debate about the propriety of having the Chief Rabbinate call for a Fast Day to beg for Divine intercession for much needed rain. I thought I'd made my point in the comments to this posting, and let that suffice.
As of last night, I've changed my mind.
The first reason was provided by the inferno raging on Mount Carmel (now apparently caused by Arab arson), which has killed 41 people, destroyed over 5,000 acres of forest and destroyed a kibbutz and hundreds of homes. The wide extent of this horrendous disaster is primarily due to the lack of rain (adumbrated by the lack of proper fire fighting equipment). So much for the argument that the present drought does not constitute an existential danger to us in Eretz Yisrael.
The second motivating reason was supplied by a conversation I had with someone who belittled the entire idea of fasting, prayer and beseeching God to send rain and preserve us. This, ostensibly religious, individual averred that God does not reply to our prayers and that nature will always take its course. When I objected that I could never agree to such a proposition, and that I have seen too many miracles in my life to think otherwise, I received the response that I was primitive and that if I've seen miracles, it's because I was looking for them.
So, here it is. I believe that, irrespective of the initiators of the Fast and Prayer Assembly, there is every reason to support their being held. First, the lack of water and rain is an existential problem for us. In addition, I see absolutely no reason not to continue believing that (even in a world wherein God hides His Countenance from us) rain is a sign of Divine Providence, or that God doesn't answer our prayers (though sometimes the answer is no). Isn't that the message of Hanukkah that God works through what are, prima facie, natural processes. Is this not the essence of נסים נסתרים, of Hidden Miracles? (And, by the way, Ramban actually did believe in Natural Law.) Even granting the danger of people adopting a puerile attitude toward prayer (I'll ask, God will give.), based upon a Deus ex Machina type of attitude, that does not justify not crying out for Divine Intervention.
The fast that God wanted was that we should come to know Him. Or, as the Kotzker said, God is where ever one lets him in.
When we light the candles tonight, we might as well light our souls and burn or skepticism..