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Rains And Reigns: Thoughts For Tu B’Shevat

   There is no rain in Israel. The weather is sunny and warm.

 

   That is bad news.
 
   Six days a week we pray to Hashem to “give dew and rain for a blessing on the face of the earth.”
 
   We depend on the winter rain to live. The Kinneret is below the danger point. Rain is not only sustenance; it is blessing, it is life.
 
   If you listen to the radio in America, you will hear how other nations view the weather:
 
   “I’m sorry to say we have more lousy weather in store. Temperatures will be plummeting and the National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning .”
 
   Or the summertime version:
 
   “I’m sorry to spoil your weekend, but you can forget the beach. Friday night through Sunday will feature heavy rains .”
 
   In Israel, they would dance for joy at this forecast.
 
   God is speaking to us. We say, twice each day, “Beware lest your heart be seduced and you turn astray and serve gods of others and bow to them. Then the wrath of God will blaze against you. He will restrain the heaven so there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its produce.”
 
   God is telling us why the rain is not falling. What are we going to do about it?
 
   We are in the days before the coming of Moshiach. The pillars and foundations of the world are shaking.
 
   The Western and Islamic cultures are in a monumental clash. The Exile is about to end. Days are coming in which it will be clear that the capital of the world is not Washington but Jerusalem. In days soon to come the entire world will bow down and pay homage to the Master of the Universe at the Holy Temple on Mount Zion.
 
   So why are we bowing down to the crumbling culture of Exile?
 
   The Shemoneh Esrei describes the coming of Moshiach ben Dovid with these words: “Blessed are You, God, Who causes the pride of salvation to flourish.” In Hebrew, “pride of salvation” is “keren yeshua.” As I understand it, “keren” is not exactly “pride.” I believe the basic translation of “keren” is “horn,” as in the horn of an ox or ram.
 
   “And Abraham raised his eyes and saw – behold a ram – caught in the thicket by its horns” (Genesis 22:13).
 
   Keren! An ox can be dangerous; its horns can rip and destroy. Perhaps our sages used the term “keren” because, when Moshiach comes the cultures of Exile that have enslaved us for thousands of years will be ripped apart just as the culture of ancient Egypt was ripped apart at the moment the Children of Israel were redeemed.
 
   In the haftara for Parshas Bo, which we just read, the Prophet Jeremiah warns Egypt, “a goring horn ["keren"] from the north is coming – it is coming!”
 
   Not only from the Western and Muslim cultures are we receiving signals of the coming Redemption. Take it for what it’s worth, but the Chinese have just celebrated their new year – the year of the ox.
 
   We are making a big mistake if we believe the culture of Exile will endure into the days of Moshiach. The only culture that will endure is the culture founded upon the words God spoke to Moses at Sinai, the words by which the Children of Israel have survived the millennia and will survive forever. As the Prophet Jeremiah assures us, in the same haftara for Parshas Bo, “Be not afraid, my servant Jacob though I shall make an end of all the nations where I have scattered you, of you I shall not make an end .”
 
   We are approaching Tu B’Shevat, the day on which the sap begins to flow in the trees of the Holy Land.
 
   We need rain.
 
   We need it so the trees can bear beautiful fruit.
 
   We need it so the Kinneret can pour out its life-giving water.
 
   We need it so our parched and tortured Land can flourish.
 
   Our Father in Heaven, give us rain. Pour rain down upon us.
 
   Fill our mikvaos and our pools and lakes with pure water from the Heavens.
 
   Fill our mouths with Torah and our hearts with love toward our brothers and sisters.
 
   We promise never again to run after the gods of others. We are coming home to You, our Father, our King.
 

   Please send dew and rain for a blessing and cause the horn of salvation to rip all idolatry from the earth so we may witness the dawn of our final and complete Redemption speedily in our days.

 

 

   Roy Neuberger’s latest book, “2020 Vision” (Feldheim), is available at Jewish bookstores, Barnes & Noble and Borders, and online at Amazon.com. Roy can be contacted at roy@tosinai.com.

About the Author: Roy Neuberger's latest book, "2020 Vision" (Feldheim), is available in English, Hebrew, Spanish, French and Russian with a Georgian edition in preparation. An e-edition is available at www.feldheim.com. Roy is also the author of "From Central Park to Sinai: How I Found My Jewish Soul" (available in English, Hebrew and Russian, Georgian edition in preparation) and "Worldstorm." Roy and his wife speak publicly on topics related to his books and articles. He can be contacted at roy@tosinai.com or through his websites www.tosinai.com and www.2020visionthebook.com. Roy and his wife speak publicly on topics related to his books and articles. He can be contacted at roy@tosinai.com or through his websites www.tosinai.com and www.2020visionthebook.com.


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