Beit Midrash

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

The Torah study is dedicatedin the memory of

Rabbi Uzi Kalcheim, zt”l

The Qualities Needed to Bring Rain

Abba Chilkiya exemplified the sort of qualities needed to petition God for rain. He displayed an impeccable work ethic, caution with the property of others, and modesty regarding his ability to bring rain. Through him, Israel was blessed with rain.


Rabbi Uzi Kalchaim zt"l

Iyar 5768
We have seen that the blessing of the Land of Israel depends upon divine benevolence. We shall now discuss Talmudic personalities who prayed for rain. There are well-known personalities such as Choni the Circle-drawer and Nakdimon ben Gurion. We shall discuss a lesser-known personality, the grandson of Choni the Circle-drawer, Abba Chilkiya.

The Talmud (Taanit 23a) tells us that on one occasion, when the world was in great need of rain, a delegation of sages was sent to Abba Chilkiya to ask him to petition God for rain.

When they reached his home, he was not present. They found him hoeing a field. They greeted him, but he did not reply. Towards evening, when he finished his work and was leaving for home, he placed a bundle of sticks and a hoe on one shoulder, and a shawl on the other. He held his shoes in his hand as he walked, and only put them on when he had to walk through a stream. When he walked through thorns, he lifted his robe.

When he reached the town, his wife came out to meet him wearing jewelry and make-up. When they reached their house, she entered before him, and when the sages entered the house, he did not offer them anything to eat.

Before the sages could seat themselves, Abba Chilkiya whispered to his wife, "I know that the sages have come to ask me to pray for rain. Let us go quickly up to the roof and evoke God’s compassion before they ask. Perhaps He will answer our prayers and cause rain to fall, and the sages will not know that the rain has come because of us." So they went up on the roof; he prayed in one corner and she in another. And the rain clouds came from her side.

Then Abba Chilkiya and his wife went back downstairs to the sages and asked them what they had come for. The sages explained that they had come to ask Abba Chilkiya to pray for rain. To this Abba Chilkiya responded, "Thank God for not making you dependent upon Abba Chilkiya’s prayers."

The sages said, "We know that the rains have come because of you, but please explain to us all of the strange things we saw you do during the course of the day. Why when we greeted you in the field did you not respond? It is disrespectful to treat a delegation of rabbis in such a manner."

Abba Chilkiya responded, saying, "I was employed as a daily worker, and was not permitted to be idle for even a single moment."

Then they asked him, "Why did you put the sticks and hoe on one shoulder and the shawl on the other?" He answered, "The shawl is borrowed, and I borrowed it on the condition of wearing it, not placing sticks on it."

They asked him, "Why did you not wear your shoes as you walked along and only put them on when you reached water?" He answered, "As I walk through the water I cannot see where I am placing my feet. Because of the danger of being bitten by a fish or snake, I put on my shoes."

"Why did you lift up your garment when you reached the thorns?" He replied, "If one’s foot is wounded, it heals, but if clothing is torn, it does not heal." (From here we see how poverty-stricken Abba Chilkiya was.)

Then they asked him, "Why, when you reached the town, did your wife come out adorned in jewelry?" He answered, "So that I not gaze upon another woman."

"And why," they then asked, "did your wife enter the house before you?" "Because I do not know you, and though I respect you, I must be suspicious of you."

"And why," they continued, "did the rain clouds come from your wife’s side?" He answered, "My wife tends to the home. When the poor and needy come to beg, she gives them food, and this satisfies them immediately. I can only give the poor money, which is a less immediate form of charity."

From the above, we can see the sort of moral fiber a person must be made of in order to petition God for rain. Just witness Abba Chilkiya’s impeccable work ethic, his caution with the property of others, his modesty regarding his ability to bring rain. It is through the merit of such individuals that Israel is blessed with rain. This is the "blessing of rain" that depends upon the moral level present in the Land of Israel.
את המידע הדפסתי באמצעות אתר