“Rain, rain, go away, come again another day,” is part and parcel of our childhood upbringing. We tend to view rain as annoying, making us wet and disheveled. It blurs our vision when driving and makes the roads slippery and dangerous. The skies are grey and our moods turn drabby and down unlike the sunny and cheerful days.
The Talmud (Taanis Folios 8b & 24b) states clearly that days of rain are harsh and not particularly enjoyed by most of humanity. On the other hand, we just dedicated an entire holiday of Sukkos to thanking God for rain and offering a water libation on the altar every day of Sukkos. The holiday culminates with a day dedicated to pray for rain on Shemini Atzeres. In the very first Torah section of the New Year we read (Rashi in Genesis 2:5)that Adam was created specifically to pray for rain. So what’s the correct perspective regarding rain? It seems that we, mankind are created to pray for rain specifically. We celebrate water and rain this past holiday, yet we ALL find it to be just a nuisance- something to “pray for” to go away!
Rabbi Avigdor Miller has mentioned many times in his talks to various audiences that rain is the ultimate blessing. I can still hear his inimitable voice saying, “Rain brings books, seforim, food, grass and flowers, chicken and steak, pizza and ice cream.” What Rabbi Miller is stressing is that we cannot produce any product to sell, buy, eat, or live in without rain. Our bricks and wood, the structure of our homes, are composed, in part, of water. 60% of our bodies are water.
Yes, rainy days can affect our moods, can be slippery and dangerous, and get in our way. The key and the purpose for which man was created and why we are here today is to be able to appreciate even the things which seem so natural and even cumbersome. We get to feel grouchy and appreciative at the same time when it rains.
In Israel, this is the rainy season. When I lived there, I watched in amazement how the young Israeli children would go outside and dance and sing in the rain, “Geshem, yoreid geshem!” Without this season, they would not be able to survive. On Shemini Azteres and throughout the winter, we Jews pray for rain so that God may have mercy on us in the United States, on those all over the world and especially upon our brothers and sisters in Israel to have that annoying yet educational lesson called Rain.
As the winter is soon in coming and the snows are arriving here, and the rains are still coming down, let us reflect for a brief moment on this blessing that is life itself!
Enjoy this fall/winter! Be safe!