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Sivan 5768

Rainfall and the Power of Collective Kindness


Summarized by students


:

We have seen that receiving rain depends upon our moral level. We have also considered some remarkable individuals who would entreat God for rain, people on a very high spiritual level whose merit was great enough to bring rain.

We will now consider a simple story that probably speaks to all of us, a story that shows how we too can be involved in the request for rain. The story comes from the life of Rabbi Tanchuma, the master of Midrash (Torah interpretation), in his work "Midrash Tanchuma."

In Rabbi Tanchumas days there was a drought. The people came to the rabbi and asked him to declare a public fast. He did so. A number of days passed and still no rain fell. Rabbi Tanchuma went and spoke before the people, saying, "My children, fill yourselves with mercy for one another, and the Holy One, blessed be He, will be filled with mercy for you."

In other words, the rabbi told the members of the community that if they would be good to one another, kind to each other, the Holy One, blessed be He, would show kindness to them in return.

The story continues:
"Now, while they were distributing charity to the poor they saw a man give money to his divorced wife. So they went to him [Rabbi Tanchuma] and exclaimed, 'Why do we sit here while such misdeeds are perpetrated!'

What have you seen? he asked.

We saw So-and-so give his divorced wife money.

He summoned them and asked him, Why did you give money to your divorced wife?

I saw her in great distress, replied he, and was filled with compassion for her.

Upon hearing this Rabbi Tanchuma turned his face upward and exclaimed: Sovereign of the Universe! This man, upon whom this woman has no claim for sustenance, saw her in distress and was filled with compassion for her. Now, seeing that of You it is written, "The Lord is full of compassion and gracious" (Psalms 103:8), and we are Your children, the children of Your beloved ones, the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, how much more should You be filled with compassion for us! Immediately the rain descended and the world enjoyed relief."

This story comes to teach us that rainfall depends on us too. We may not be on the same level as the extremely righteous who are able to bring rain through their prayers, but rainfall depends on our conduct as well, our mutual consideration and the kindness we show to one another.

It finds expression in our daily lives. When you reach an intersection, you can be stubborn or you can yield to your fellow. If you are standing in line, you can push aside or allow yourself to be pushed aside. If we know how to show kindness to one another, God will show kindness to us, rains will fall and the world will enjoy relief.


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