As the weather turns colder and precipitation becomes heavier, the daily prayers change accordingly. This change happens in two stages. On the eighth day of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, we adjust the opening lines of the Amidah prayer, praising G‑d as the One who “makes the wind blow and brings down the rain.” At a later point,1 we begin to ask G‑d to “give dew and rain for blessing upon the earth.”

There are three key elements here:

English term Hebrew spelling English pronunciation Numerical value
Rain מטר Mattar 249
Dew טל Tal 39
Wind רוח Ruach 214

The most important element here is rain. If you look closely at the Hebrew spelling of the word, you can see that it includes within it the other two elements of weather that we ask for: dew and wind.

The first letter, מ, stands for מטר, rain. The second letter, ט, stands for טל, dew. And the final letter, ר, stands for רוח, wind.

ר ט מ
ל ט
ח ו ר

Now, unlike rain, it is not crucial that we pray for these two secondary elements. In fact, if you accidentally forgot to mention them in your prayer, you need not repeat the prayer. Why? Our sages tell us that both dew and wind never cease. Rain, on the other hand, is something that comes and goes, and we mustn’t take it for granted.

Now take a look at the last letters of these words and see that they spell רחל, Rachel.

ר ט מ
ח ו ר
ל ט

How is Rachel connected to these three elements? In Song of Songs, we find the term היפה בנשים, “the most beautiful among women,” and according to the sages, this is a reference to our Matriarch Rachel, who is described as having “beautiful form and beautiful appearance.” The numerical value of היפה בנשים is 502. And if you add up the values of the three elements noted in our first chart, you will arrive at . . . 502!

Okay, so we know that Rachel is connected to these three elements, but what does Rachel have to do with the weather?

The Patriarchs

These three elements correspond to the three patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. How so?

  • Dew: Abraham is classically associated with the divine attribute of chesed (often translated as kindness), from which goodness and ease flow. Abraham's chesed was exemplified by his prodigious love of G‑d, his charity, his campaigning on behalf of the condemned and his lifelong effort to enlighten his fellow man. This kindness corresponds to the life-giving dew, which never stops.
  • Rain: Abraham’s son Isaac, on the other hand, is associated with gevurah (often translated as strength or severity). Isaac's gevurah was expressed through his great awe of G‑d, in his exacting self-discipline and moral restraint. The difficulties we encounter flow from the divine attribute of gevurah. Thus, Isaac is most strongly correlated with rains, which can become torrential storms, and only fall when we are deserving.
  • Wind: Jacob is associated the attribute tiferet, beauty, the synthesis of chesed and gevurah. This is associated with the breezy winds, which temper extreme weather.

Now take the lifespans of these three great men in the chart below, and add them up:

Patriarch Lifespan
Abraham 175 years
Isaac 180 years
Jacob 147 years

You arrive at none other than . . . 502!

And now we can return to Rachel. According to the kabbalists, Rachel’s beauty was not (just) physical—it was an expression of her spiritual perfection. As the “most beautiful among women,” she exemplified the feminine attribute of malchut, royalty. Malchut, as the last of the 10 Divine Emanations, receives divine energies from the preceding nine emanations and reshapes them in her image to be transmitted to the next sphere. Thus, Rachel received chesed, gevurah and tiferet from the patriarchs and combined them into a harmonious whole.

This is why Rachel is spelled out specifically by adding the final letters of the three elements. After all, she is the final sum of three divergent paths joining together.