Rabi Abba said, “Should a year of famine start tomorrow and men show compassion to each other, then the Holy One, blessed be He, will also be filled with compassion for them.”
In the days of Rabi Tanhuma, there was a drought in Israel and the people requested that he proclaim a fast day on which people would beg G-d to send them rain. He proclaimed a fast for one day, then a second day and then a third day, yet no rain fell.
He ascended the pulpit and said, “My sons! Be filled with compassion for each other, and then the Holy One, blessed be He, will be filled with compassion for you.”
While they were distributing relief to the poor, they saw a man give money to his divorced wife. They went to Rabi Tanhuma and complained. “We know why there is no rain; we are being punished for misdeeds which are being perpetrated in our midst!”
“What have you seen?” he asked them.
“We saw so-and-so give his divorced wife money,” they replied. “Apparently he must be living with her again.”
Rabi Tanhuma summoned the man and asked him, “Why did you give money to your divorced wife?”
“I saw her in great distress,” he replied, “and I was filled with compassion for her.”
Upon hearing this, Rabi Tanhuma turned his face upward and exclaimed: “Sovereign of the Universe! This man, upon whom this woman has no claim for sustenance, saw her in distress and was filled with pity for her. Seeing then that of You it is written, ‘The Lord is full of compassion and grace’ (Psalms 103:8), while we are Your children, the children of Your beloved ones, the children of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, how much the more should You be filled with compassion for us!”
Immediately the rain descended and the world enjoyed relief.