Rain: May It Be a Blessing
by Menucha Chwat
Midreshet Rachel v’Chaya
The month of Cheshvan is associated with rain. In Eretz Yisrael, on the 7th of Cheshvan we begin adding the words “Veten tal umatar levracha” – “Give dew and rain for a blessing” – to the weekday Amidah. We not only ask for dew and rain, but we add the word “levracha” – “for a blessing.” When we said the Prayer for Rain, “Geshem,” on Shemini Atzeret we also requested that the rain be “levracha v’lo leklala” – “for a blessing and not for a curse.”
Water has potential to be a life giving blessing, but it can also be an agent of destruction. The Midrash (Bereshit Rabba 5,1) tells us that when Hashem on the third day of creation said, “Yikavu hamayim” – “Let the waters…be gathered” – He said “Yikavu Li” – “May the waters be gathered for Me” – for what I intend to do with them. Whether for blessing or curse, water fulfills Hashem’s mission. It is up to man to determine which.
The Midrash continues with a parable.
A king built a palace and inhabited it with mutes. The mutes would greet the king with finger motions and by tipping their hats. The king said “If the palace were inhabited by those who speak, how much more would they honor me.” He filled the palace with those who speak. They stood and said, “This palace does not belong to the king – it belongs to us.” Said the king, “I will return the palace to whom it originally belonged.”
The same was true of our world. Originally the world was only water, and the water praised Hashem (Tehillim 93). Hashem said, “If water which has no mouth can praise, when I create Man, how much more so will he praise.” But when the Dor Hamabul – the Generation of the Flood – rebelled, Hashem said, “Now the waters which praise me will take their original place upon the earth.”
We are faced with a challenge. Will we add our verbal praises to the wordless songs of the water, or will we fill Hashem’s palace with scorn and treason? When man chose the latter, Hashem reverted to his mute drops of water, but they ended up being waters of destruction for man. But when man’s mouth is filled with praises, he sings to Hashem along with the waters of blessing.
Both teshuva and Torah are likened to water. Teshuva (Midrash Tehillim) – as it says “You will fling all their sins into the depths of the sea”. Torah (Midrash Tanchuma) – just as we are not embarassed to ask for someone to pour us a cup of water, we should also not be embarassed to ask someone to teach us Torah. Our waters of Torah and Teshuva, along with our tefilla and praises, can bring down waters of blessing.
May this year be a year of Gishmei Bracha – rain which is a blessing.