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Beit Midrash Family and Society Rain in Israel

Chapter 6

The Blessing of Rain for All

The Midrash relates a story about a non-Jew who asks R' Yehoshua ben Korcha a question: "You have your holidays, and we have our holidays. When you rejoice we do not rejoice; when we rejoice you do not rejoice. When do we ever rejoice together?"
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In the preceding lesson we underscored our moral dependency upon the heavenly blessing of rain that showers down upon us according to our good deeds. "The eyes of God are upon [the Land of Israel] from the beginning of the year until the end of the year" (Deuteronomy 11:12).
Rain in Israel (17)
Rabbi Uzi Kalchaim zt"l
5 - A Shared Blessing
6 - The Blessing of Rain for All
7 - The Condensed Blessing
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Because we live in a developing region with a growing population, our need for water is ever growing. Our agriculture is not stagnant; it does not remain on a primitive level that demands little water. It is dynamic and active. It thrives and innovates in many areas. Therefore, we must learn how to make the most efficient use possible of our water sources.
But we must understand that this is not our problem alone, a problem of the State of Israel; rather, it is a problem that affects our whole region. And in truth, when we speak about peace, and before we speak about peace, we must speak about living together, knowing how to live together.
The Midrash relates a story about a non-Jew who asks R' Yehoshua ben Korcha a question: "You have your holidays, and we have our holidays. When you rejoice we do not rejoice; when we rejoice you do not rejoice. When do we ever rejoice together?"
If we try, we can find all sorts of parallel holidays: We have Pesach (Passover) and they have "Pascha" (Easter); we have Chanukah and they have other holidays. We are unable to rejoice on their holidays, for we cannot relate to them at all. Is there, then, no occasion on which we rejoice together?
"He answered, '[We rejoice together] when the rain falls.' Why is this? 'The meadows are clothed with flocks; the valleys are covered over with corn; they shout for joy, yea, they sing' " (Psalms 65:14).
Here, then, we have a lyrical description of what happens when the rains fall. The meadows become clothed, as it were, with flocks that come to enjoy the fresh vegetation. "They shout for joy, yea, they sing" - here we have the song of creation!

The Midrash continues:
"What is written after this? 'Shout unto God, all the earth.' It is not written ['Shout unto God] Priests, Levites, and Israelites,' but 'Shout . . . all the earth!' "


In other words, when we see heavenly blessing bestowed upon the earth, we see a shared joy, a joy that embraces everybody - man, animal, and, of course, the different nations. Therefore, true joy comes when the rain falls, for rain benefits us all, and allows all creatures to live and thrive.
The Almighty does not take pleasure in destroying the world. Therefore, before we talk about peace, we must speak about a just distribution of water. And if our enemies are unwilling to speak to us about water, about a fair division of water in our region, if they do not wish to pursue life, the preservation of life, but opt for the abolition of life, we must seek out an occasion for shared joy, as the non-Jew asks R' Yehoshua, "Is there no occasion on which we both rejoice?"
This is a heavenly blessing, for God nourishes and sustains all, "from the horns of the antelope to the eggs of the lice." He bestows life upon the entire creation. We, for our part, have to learn how to live together. If we so choose, we can live a rich and blessed life; we can share the bounty that God bequeaths upon us all, 'Shout unto God, all the earth.' All of humankind must rejoice in God's goodness and in the bounty that descends upon the earth.
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