Close your eyes, breathe in deeply, now exhale slowly… That was easy, wasn’t it? Not for everyone…
The keys to rain, work, resurrection and birth are in the hands of God, not man.
Indeed, as the Tur points out, the Hebrew word for key, mafteach, stands for matar, rain; parnassah, sustenance; techiat hameitim, resurrection; and chayah, childbirth. Rain and parnassah is one and the same thing, for the world’s sustenance is provided through rain.
On Shemini Atzeret, God decides how successful we will be in terms of our livelihood in the coming year and how much rain will fall.Poverty is something that will always remain with us. The only question is, who will be poor in the coming year? Of course, we must try our hardest to make a living, but ultimately it is not up to us. It is His decision. So what can we do to influence the Boss?
We can pray for rain. In the Mussaf prayer on Shemini Atzeret, we mention God’s powers as a rainmaker by reciting, in the blessing of resurrection, the words Mashiv haruach u’morid hageshem, God makes the wind blow and the rain come down. This is because rain, like techiat hameitim, has the power to revive. Seeds planted in the earth will come to life like the dead themselves.
The prayer of Mashiv haruach u’morid hageshem mentions God’s rainmaking powers but it is not an immediate request for rain. The prayer of Veten tal u’matar, give us dew and rain, inserted in the berachah of Bareich Aleinu in the Amidah, is a request for immediate rain. In Israel, one begins to recite the Veten tal u’matar request for rain fifteen days following Shemini Atzeret, so that pilgrims who visited Jerusalem for Sukkot could reach home before the rain swelled the rivers and made them impassable. Low-lying lands like Babylonia needed rain later in the year and therefore residents of such lands recite Veten tal u’matar sixty days following the equinox, which is on the fifth of December.
Because rain during the first seven days of Sukkot is considered divine rejection of the mitzvah of sukkah, we postpone the prayers for rain until Shemini Atzeret, when the Torah no longer commands us to sit in a sukkah. According to the Aruch Hashulchan, geshem is the rain in the sky whereas matar is the rain on the ground.The prayers of Mashiv harauch and Veten tal u’matar are recited in the Amidah until the Mussaf prayer on the first day of Pesach, which occurs in springtime, when rain is no longer required.
Of course, God ultimately decides whether and when the rain and the parnassah will come and there is no guarantee that our request for timely, plentiful and beneficial rain will be granted. There may be no rain, or not enough rain to fill the cisterns and wells, or there may be too much rain with damaging effects. But we must pray for it and we must apply as much pressure on God as possible. After all, we are placed on this earth to perform His mitzvot and we have the right to ask for the tools of the trade.
The Talmud tells us that if rain does not fall by the seventeenth day of the month of Mar Cheshvan – that is, ten days after it is needed in Israel – the rabbis of old declared public fasts that escalated in duration, frequency and severity. If the month of Adar arrived and the rains still had not come, the Jews would resort to a special form of blackmail. They would send an emissary to request rain whom God could not refuse. Such an emissary was Choni Hame’agel, Choni the circle maker, who was known for his extreme piety and understanding of the Torah. Choni would draw a circle around him and stand in the middle of it praying for rain, warning God that he would not step out until the rains came. When they came in scattered drops, he urged God for more. When the sky opened up with torrential rains, he asked God for less, until it was just right. Though Choni saved the people, Shimon Ben Shetach criticized him for forcing God’s hand. “Were you not Choni, I would pronounce a ban on you. But what shall I do, for you misbehave toward God and yet he does what you want.”
About the Author: Raphael Grunfeld’s book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Moed” (distributed by Mesorah) is available at OU.org and your local Jewish bookstore. His new book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Nashim & Nezikin,” will be available shortly.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
By internalizing the Exodus, it is as if we ourselves were redeemed from Egypt.
Each Shabbos we add the tefilla of “Ritzei” to Birchas HaMazon. In it we ask Hashem that on this day of Shabbos He should be pleased with us and save us. What exactly do we want to be saved from? Before we answer this question, let’s talk about this Friday, the 15th of Av. Many […]
Amongst the greatest disagreements in Judaism is the understanding of the 1st of the 10 Commandments
The director picked up the phone to Rabbi Dayan. “One of our counselors lost his check,” he said. “Do we have to issue a new one or is it his loss?”
Six events occurred on Tu B’Av, the 15th of Av, making it a festive day in the Jewish calendar.
Why would Moshe Rabbeinu have thought that the vow that disallowed him to enter Eretz Yisrael was annulled simply because he was allowed to conquer and enter the land of Sichon and Og?
Question: When a stranger approaches a congregant in shul asking for tzedakah, should the congregant verify that the person’s need is genuine? Furthermore, what constitutes tzedakah? Is a donation to a synagogue, yeshiva, or hospital considered tzedakah?
Snow in Jerusalem! For many New Englanders like me, snow pulls at our nostalgic heartstrings like nothing else can.
Man has conflicting wishes and desires. Man has forces pulling him in competing directions.
Perhaps the admonition here is that we should not trivialize the events of the past by saying that they are irrelevant to the modern Jew.
One must view the settlement of Israel in a positive light. Thinking otherwise is a grievous sin.
Reaching a stronger understanding of what Moses actually did to prevent him from entering the land
Anti-Zionism, today’s anti-Semitism, has gone viral, tragically supported globally & by many Jews
Because the words of Torah gladden the heart, studying Torah is forbidden when Tisha B’Av is on a weekday, except for passages in Scripture that deal with the destruction of the Temple and other calamities.
The combination of the severity of the punishment and the ease with which the prohibition may be forgotten require that the smallest amount of chametz – chametz bemashehu – be prohibited.
If the sick person is thrust into a situation where he is compelled to face his sickness head on, we who are not yet sick can encourage him by facing it with him.
Less clear, however, is whether the concept applies to the area of civil law such as the law of transfer of property.
Conversely, no part of the Land within the boundaries delineated in Numbers 34 may be relinquished for any purpose whatsoever.
Although it is true that the Final Redemption will be accelerated when all Jews repent and accept the rule of Torah, there is also another scenario for the Final Redemption.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/halacha-hashkafa/the-rainmaker-tefillat-hageshem/2014/06/19/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: