Yeshiva.org.il - The Torah World Gateway
שנה טובה באתר ישיבה!
Beit Midrash Family and Society Rain in Israel

Chapter 4

The Blessing from Above

In describing creation, Scripture first tells us that rivers flowed and irrigated the Garden of Eden, and then it mentions rain. The Midrash brings four explanations for God's decision to change the manner of Earth's irrigation from rivers to rain.
Rabbi Uzi Kalchaim zt"lWednesday, 26 Cheshvan 5768
3418
Click to dedicate this lesson
The sages of the Midrash teach (Bereshit Rabba 13:9):
Rain in Israel (17)
Rabbi Uzi Kalchaim zt"l
3 - Balance
4 - The Blessing from Above
5 - A Shared Blessing
Load More
"Even so did the earth drink: at first, "There went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground"; but the Holy One, blessed be He, reconsidered the matter and decided that it should drink from above only."
In describing creation, Scripture first tells us that rivers flowed and irrigated the Garden of Eden, and then it mentions rain. The Midrash brings four explanations for God's decision to change the manner of Earth's irrigation from rivers to rain.
"R. Hanan of Sepphoris said in the name of R. Shemuel ben Nahman: On account of four things did the Holy One, blessed be He, subsequently decide that the earth should drink only from above: first, because of lawless men; secondly, in order to wash away obnoxious vapors; thirdly, that the highlands might drink equally with the lowlands; and fourthly, that all might lift their eyes heavenwards; thus it is written, That the lowly may lift [their eyes] heavenwards (Job 5:11)."
First of all, we have to try to understand the meaning of the expression "but the Holy One, blessed be He, reconsidered the matter and decided that it should drink from above only." How can we say that God reconsidered matters? Reconsidering is something that humans do, not God.
Rather, what this means is that God provides for the world in accordance with the moral level of man. After creation things went downhill. Initially, the world was pure and people were upright, and as a result the soil was blessed. But then people began sinning. The world was cursed and man was no longer worthy of enjoying the immediate blessing that came directly from his efforts. From here on, man would only enjoy goodness through the sweat of his brow, as it is written, "Through the sweat of your brow shall you eat bread" (Genesis 3:19).
The need for toil in fact benefits man, for it helps him understand that no blessing is received without struggle and labor. The curse itself, then, contains a hidden blessing. This is the nature of man. When a person struggles and sacrifices himself for something it becomes dear to him, he values it and thanks God for it.
To return to our Midrash, why did the blessing from below cease and the blessing from above begin? First the Midrash answers, "Because of lawless men." This means that there were thugs who felt that because the river passed through their area it belonged to them. Not because they desired its waters, but because they wanted to keep others from benefiting from it. They wished to be the ones in control. Therefore, in order that the weak not be dependent upon the strong, God made the blessing come from above. Rain falls everywhere and brings a blessing to the weak and unfortunate who are deprived access to the rivers. Today, too, we must strive to divide water in a just and unbiased manner so that all will be able to enjoy God's blessing.
The second reason brought by the Midrash is "in order to wash away obnoxious vapors." Air becomes muggy and polluted. Today we know that from an ecological standpoint, only after rain has fallen and cleaned the air can we see the landscape clearly.
The third reason, "That the highlands might drink equally with the lowlands," i.e., that water not be concentrated in the lowlands, that hills and mountains also be blessed with water.
The fourth and most important reason is "so that all might lift their eyes heavenwards." With rain, man cannot boast and brag about a natural blessing that comes through no effort whatsoever on his part. Here, man is dependant on Heavenly goodwill, and here prayer is important. Therefore, rain falls from above, "so that all might lift their eyes heavenwards." In this manner we merit a blessing through human enterprise, toiling, working the land, and also through prayer. If the blessing were to flow naturally, people would become proud and haughty, as Scripture says of Egypt, "My Nile is mine own, and I have made it for myself" (Ezekiel 29:3). Pharaoh was so proud of his strength, his Nile, that he turned it into a god. He felt that everything was his. This is the purpose of making man dependent upon rain, for in this manner he feels dependent upon God.
-----
Translated biblical verses and/or Talmudic sources in the above article may have been taken from, or based upon, Davka's Soncino Judaic Classics Library (CD-Rom).


More on the topic of Rain in Israel

It is not possible to send messages to the Rabbis through replies system.Click here to send your question to rabbi.

את המידע הדפסתי באמצעות אתר yeshiva.org.il