Beit Midrash

  • Family and Society
  • Rain in Israel
קטגוריה משנית
To dedicate this lesson

The Torah study is dedicatedin the memory of

Rabbi Uzi Kalcheim, zt"l

The abundant rain that has fallen recently fills us with a special joy. We are gladdened at the sight of the northern streams filled to their brim. Lake Kinneret's water level rises from day to day. The shortages resulting from extensive water drawing are slowly being made up for. Though the heavy rains have caused some difficulties, flooding, damage, and even disasters, we accept all of this lovingly and with understanding, for water is like life for us.

As we were getting soaked in the rain, stuck on the roads because of the snow, etc., there were certainly many of us who mumbled to ourselves, a little irritably, about the unbearable nature of this winter weather. I would like, therefore, to relate a comforting story about Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Yehudah Berliner, the Natziv of Volozhin:

Once, a guest came to stay at the Volozhin Yeshiva. While he was there he noticed that the Natziv's living quarters were located within the Yeshiva building itself. As everybody knows, the sound of Torah study at the Volozhin Yeshiva never ceased, day and night. The guest asked the Natziv how he managed to fall asleep at night amidst the sound of the students' unending study.

The Natziv answered, "Just look at the miller. He lives on the bank of the river, and the millstones spin and grind unrelentingly, making a terrible clatter. If you ask him how he manages to fall asleep, he will tell you, to the contrary, he can only fall asleep when he hears the grinding of the millstones.

"It has a calming effect on him," the rabbi explained, "for only when he hears it does he know that his livelihood is assured. If, heaven forbid, the river was to wane and the millstones come to a halt, he would find himself in a predicament and would be unable to sleep."

"The same is true of myself," said the Natziv. "I can only fall asleep to the uninterrupted noise of my 'factory.' If, heaven forbid, this noise were to come to a halt, I would become disturbed and worried, and I would be unable to fall asleep."

This is how each of us ought to feel when rain falls. We should sense that our livelihood is falling from heaven, as if we are being blessed with an improved salary. In the words of our sages (Taanit 8b): "A rainy day is so great that even the coin in one's pocket is blessed through it." The sages substantiate this notion with the verse, "To provide your lands with rain in its [proper] time, to bless all of your endeavors" (Deuteronomy 28:12).

In what sense is the "coin in one's pocket" blessed through rain? After all, the sages teach us that things that are counted do not receive a blessing (see Taanit 8b).

The answer is that when the crops of the fields are bountiful, their prices drop in the marketplace and the buying power of the coin grows. The sages understood the expression "all of your endeavors" to include the "coin in one's pocket." It is not only the crops of the field that are blessed through the rains, but even small, inanimate objects hidden away in our pockets.

Our sages learn this from the Creation story, "There went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground" (Genesis 2:6). R' Eleazar said in the name of R' Yose ben Zimra: "Everything is blessed [by rain]: Commerce is blessed and merchants profit" (Bereshit Rabbah 13:16).

Here, too, the sages base their interpretation on the word "kol" ("whole"; "the 'whole' face of the ground." The same "kol" is used above in the Hebrew expression "all of your endeavors"). The seemingly superfluous "kol" teaches us that everything is blessed through the rain. We discover the blessing of rain even in places where we would not imagine rain could have any influence. Even the lifeless coins in our pockets grow like crops in the field.

Therefore, if we find ourselves stuck on the roads due to flooding, and as a result we get home late because of traffic, we will know how to have patience and keep our composure, and we will understand that the rains bring a blessing to the "coin in one's pocket."

We will be as calm as the miller who hears the waters flowing and the millstones grinding, because by virtue of these things his livelihood is secured. We will be able to fall asleep like the Natziv of Volozhin listening to the soothing sounds of Torah study flowing from the yeshiva study hall day and night.

We will accept gratefully the blessed rains, for they strengthen our existence and security, and they allow us to be self-sufficient.

It seems most fitting to conclude with the verse, "The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the Heaven, to give the rain of your land in its season and to bless all work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow" (Deuteronomy 28:12).
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