|Praying For Rain|
|Written by El Ad Eliovson|
The Chief Rabbi in Israel, Rav Amar, declared Thursday, January 14th as a fast day for rain in Eretz Yisrael. While there have been some spectacular rainfalls, the total amount of water is seriously lacking - enough for the Rav to call for this exceptional measure.
Eretz Yisrael is unique in many aspects. One primary difference is that vs. other countries and nations, there isn't a ministering angel assigned to oversee Israel or those inhabiting the land; Israel is overseen *directly* by HaShem. It is a land "upon which G-d's eye rests from the beginning of the year until the end." Meaning, there is not one moment of the year - not a single day - without G-d judging the land and her inhabitants' actions. While outside of Israel there is Hashgacha Klaleet - general oversight most often, everything in Israel is Hashgacha Prateet - specific oversight. If we merit, G-d will run things smoothly for us. If our actions go astray, so will G-d's blessings for us.
The need for rain appears almost simultaneously in the Torah with the creation of Adam. Verses 4 and 5 of the second chapter of the Torah read as follows: "These are the consequential manifestations of the heaven and the earth when they were created, in the day G-d, the L-rd made earth and heaven. And every shrub of the field was not yet in the earth and every herb of the field had not yet sprung up, for G-d, the L-rd had not caused it to rain upon he earth and there was no Adam 'lah'ah'vode et ha'adamah' - to work the soil."
Rashi comments: "When the creation of the world was completed on the sixth day - *before* Adam was created - and all the herbs of the field had not yet sprouted... But on the third day is it not written, 'And the earth brought forth grass, herbs yielding seed after their kind?....' [Therefore:] It must be understood that the herbs had not yet come forth, but rather, stood just below the surface of the earth until the sixth day. Why? "For G-d, the L-rd had not caused it to rain."
"there was no Adam 'lah'ah'vode et ha'adamah"
Rashi explains this to mean, "There was no one to recognize the goodness of rainfalls. And when Adam came and knew that they were necessary for the world, he *prayed* for them and they descended - and then the trees and grasses sprouted."
We are thus taught that the need for rain was - amazingly! *built into* - Creation and is dependent on Adam's recognition!
Paying careful attention to the words in the verses we see some additional nuances:
"V'Adam Ahyeen" - There was no Adam: the word Ahyeen actually means 'a void'. There was a void on Earth. There was no Adam. Our sages say, "In the place where there is no 'Ish', strive to be an 'Ish' " It seems the same may be true today unfortunately: where is the Adam? where is the recognition of HaKadosh Baruch Hu and His Goodness? There appears to be at least a temporary void at the moment.
"lah'ah'vode et ha'adamah" - to work the earth: Avodah is also the term we use for the Shemoneh Esrei, the central part of our prayer services. Rashi supports this connection when he explains in connection to this term that "lah'ah'vode" meant Adam prayed for rainfalls to descend.
I write this sitting in Vancouver where there is no snow on Whistler mountain for the Winter Olympics, but yet it is pouring and the forecast is for at least five straight days of rain. In Israel, there hasn't been enough rain yet.
Can it be that we are taking things and/or our relationship(s) a bit too much for granted? If our service has become rote it is practically void.
Luckily I don't think things are too far gone. Baruch HaShem Yisborach, Rav Amar has called out a truly good and meaningful reminder to us: to recognize the Good and to pray for the needs of the earth.