Do we or do we not want the rain?

Friday, 8 October, 2021 - 12:46 pm

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In the Amidah, the Silent Prayer which we recite three times a day, morning, afternoon and evening, there are two passages which change according to the seasons, i.e. we say one thing in autumn-winter and something else in spring-summer. Both are connected with rain.

The first change is found in the second blessing of the Amida: in autumn, precisely on Shmini Atseret (right after Sukkot), we start mentioning the rain and say: "Mashiv haruach umorid hageshem", “He causes the wind to blow and the rain to fall.” But we do not ask for rain yet.

On the 7th of the month of Cheshvan, in Israel*, we make the second change, in the 9th blessing, where we ask for rain: “ … veten tal umatar livracha” “Bestow dew and rain for blessing upon the face of the earth . . .”. Thus, we ask G-d to bless this year and this winter with the much-needed rain.

Why specifically on the 7th of Cheshvan?

The answer is found in the period of the Temple. A large part of the Jewish people would come to the Temple for the holidays (it is a Mitzvah). Trips were lengthy and difficult.  If rain fell right after Sukkot, the return would be even more difficult, since the dirt roads would become muddy, and the travelers would get wet and dirty. This is why they waited until the last Jew got back home (or crossed the river Prat, which constitutes the end of Eretz Israel) and only then asked for rain. This is why until nowadays, we do not start immediately after Sukkot to ask for rain (but only mention it).

Thus, until the 7th of Cheshvan, in a certain way, we still remain in the Holiday period, since there are still Jews on their way back from the Temple.  

This teaches us something very important: Rain brings joy to the world, especially in Israel which needs it a lot. Yet, if there is a chance that the rain will make it difficult for a Jew to travel to and from the Temple, we delay our requests for rain until he can also enjoy and rejoice with it.

We should care about someone else in the same way. Not to rejoice when the other cannot share in it. We need to make sure that they can be happy together with us.

Shabbat Shalom,

Arie from the Yeshiva

*Outside of Israel, we start asking for rain on the 4th or the 5th of December. Find out why here

* What happens in the spring? At this time, rain is not desirable, for the grain harvest has begun and rain will cause the sheaves of grain lying in the field to rot. So we stop asking for rain and instead, we pray for dew to fall and moisten the crops without harming drying grain. In spring, we change both passages at the same time, on the first day of the Holiday of Pesach.

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