WHEN HE REIGNS, IT POURS
Rabbi Shmuel Weiss
The Hebrew month known as Marcheshvan has begun, and we are all asking: Will it rain? Marcheshvan, by tradition, is the beginning of the rainy season.
The Hebrew month known as Marcheshvan has begun, and we are all asking: Will it rain? Marcheshvan, by tradition, is the beginning of the rainy season. That is why we began reciting the special line referring to rain in the Shemoneh Esrei prayer. That is also why our sages added the prefix "mar" to the name of the month. While some say that the Hebrew word "mar — bitter" refers to the fact that this month contains no festivals, most sources connect "mar" to rain, translating it as "drops of water."
As we all know, the land of Israel is frequently in a water crisis. "What can we do?" you may ask. It seems clear to me that we need not sit by helplessly and passively. We know that Hashem delivers rain in its proper season and supply based upon our actions, as is indicated in the second paragraph of the fundamental Shema prayer. We bring the rain, based upon our piety and mitzvah performance.
This Shabbat, we read about Noah. His generation had the opposite problem — too much rain. The flood, we are told, was the result of immoral behavior between people. Sexual depravity, lack of respect for others, and theft made Hashem decide to wipe out humanity.
Drought, however, stems not from inter-personal problems, but rather from a flaw in the relationship between us and Hashem. If we are to open the gates of rain, we must first open the gates of prayer, and study, in order to "repair the dike."
I am therefore proposing that every Jew take upon him/herself the commitment to recite a little bit of Tehillim (Psalms) each day, beyond what we recite in the daily prayer service. Tehillim, as we know, have a mystical power to influence Hashem and bring us blessing. By reciting Tehilim with the express intent to bring rain, we can "seed" the Heavens.
In addition, we should all strive to increase our Torah study, for Torah is referred to as mayim — living waters. Regular attendance at any of the myriad Torah classes in your area promises the reward of prosperity, which comes through rain.
As mentioned above, we recently began reciting the special line for rain in the Shemoneh Esrei prayer. The line reads as follows: If you bring back spiritual energy, then the rain shall fall. May our prayers and Torah study be answered drop by drop.
Rabbi Shmuel Weiss, a close friend of the Torah from Dixie family, is the director of the Jewish Outreach Center in Rana’ana, Israel.
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