Every year on Simchat Torah Jews pray for rain. It does not matter where they live or if it is a place that needs precipitation. The Land of Israel does need rain to fall throughout the winter and so the Jewish people pray for it. The prayer calls upon HaShem to remember the merits of Avraham, Yitzhak, Yaacov, Moshe, Aharon, and the twelve tribes and in their honor to grant us rain. However, the prayer is very specific as to what kind of rain we need. We want it for a blessing and not a curse, for life and not for death, and for plenty and not for scarcity. The request for rain as a blessing continues daily until Pesach.
For the last number of years these prayers have been said with tremendous concentration and feeling in my synagogue. This is because winter after winter we had not been receiving the rainfall we needed.Even those of us far away from agriculture knew that we would all be suffering from the drought in Israel. Water prices hiked. There were talks of rationing. And every spring we wondered if there would be enough water to open the municipal swimming pool.
Our main source of water, the beloved Kinneret, saw its level falling lower and lower. In the past we could park on the roadside and immediately stick our toes into the lake’s water. That changed and the last half a dozen years we had to walk several meters over stones once covered by the lake to reach the shores.
Last winter saw the most rain we had received in seven years but it still was not enough. Our prayers have been heartfelt this year and it seems as if the drought is truly over.
However, the weather last week was anything but easy. Wind, hail, rain, and floods caused injuries and even deaths with car accidents and drownings. Even the beautiful snow caused hardships for those who find extra heating and missed workdays due to closed roads an economic difficulty.
With those people in mind the rabbis have called on us to be generous with our tzedakah now. I am certainly not a rabbi but I have my own request to make. As we continue to pray for rain let’s concentrate on the blessing part of the prayer. Let’s work on our deeds and the way we treat each other so HaShem will be pleased with us. Then, perhaps, he will indeed give us the rain as a blessing and not a curse, for life and not for death, and for plenty and not for scarcity.