When will it stop? It’s been raining all week. Rain, just go away! Come again some other day. How often do we North Americans complain about the rain! Israelis appreciate the rain. They mean it when they pray for rain three times a day during Israel’s rainy season.

The Hebrew phrase, mashiv haruach umorid hageshem (“who causes the wind to blow and the rain to fall”) recited by Jews worldwide from the end of Sukkot until Passover offers praise to G‑d for the blessing of rain.

Rain Is Not Random

Rain is mentioned twice in the Torah portion of Eikev. First, the Torah tells us, “From the rain of heaven you will drink water.”1 The Land of Israel depends on rainfall since it has just one large body of fresh water.

In the second paragraph of the Shema prayer, which is also found in this Torah portion, rain is mentioned again. “If you listen to my commandments that I command you today—to love G‑d, your G‑d, and serve Him with all of your heart and with all your soul, then I will give you rain for your land in its proper time, the early and the late rains.”2

The message is clear: Rainfall is not a random occurrence. It’s a blessing that comes directly from G‑d. Rainfall is the result of human prayer, as a verse in Genesis teaches, “And no plant of the field was yet on Earth, and no herb of the field had yet sprouted, for G‑d had not sent rain upon the Earth and there was no man to work the soil.”3

Rashi explains that until the creation of the first human, there had been no one to appreciate the benefits of rain. Adam understood the significance of rain and prayed for it. As a result, rain fell, and trees and plants emerged. This emphasizes how great a blessing rain truly is.

Water Symbolizes Torah

The same way humanity cannot survive without water, the Jewish people can’t survive without Torah. There are many references to water symbolizing Torah, perhaps none more direct than, “There is no water other than Torah.”4

Like the physical rain, the blessings of Torah are drawn down by fulfilling G‑d’s commandments.

“The day when rain falls is as great as the day on which heaven and earth were created,”5 the Talmud tells us. Perhaps the Torah is likened to rain because it nurtures us to reach our full potential and become the people we were meant to be.

Balancing Physicality and Spirituality

Just as there must be a balance between rainfall and sunshine for crops to thrive, a person’s spiritual and material needs intersect. Most mitzvot involve physical actions. Through using something physical for a Divine purpose, we tangibly integrate spirituality into our lives.

The Rebbe would conclude his personal correspondence with blessings for both material well-being and spiritual attainment. Physicality and spirituality are not mutually exclusive; they are meant to work in conjunction with one another. If our basic physical needs are not met, we can become preoccupied by what we lack, to the detriment of our spiritual pursuits, as Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah said: “If there is no flour, there is no Torah.”6

So, it’s another rainy day, but I look at it differently now. The weather forecast predicts scattered showers tomorrow, too, but now I look forward to appreciating that rain for what it truly is: a blessing from G‑d.

Making It Relevant

  1. Be mindful of how much energy you are expending on your physical and spiritual pursuits.
  2. Develop your appreciation for G‑d’s many blessings to the earth and to humankind. Show your appreciation in prayer.
  3. The next time it rains, don’t be disappointed that you have to cancel your picnic. Thank G‑d for the blessing (and take an umbrella).