Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sweet old rain

From Moshe Mordechai!
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After Shabbat in Israel we have started asking G^d for rain. Just like a good friend who gives before he is asked, G^d gave us immediately after Sukkot already, including this past wet Shabbat. Interestingly, in Israel we always start asking for rain the week after the reading of the Deluge. Only this time, as we asked on the last day of the Holidays that this rain will be: for life and not death, for blessing and not curse, for wealth and not poverty.

The name of our new month is Cheshvan or Mar-Cheshvan. Mar sometimes means drop: the month in which we hope the clouds start dripping. Popularly it's said also that this month is bitter (Mar) because the month before was so laden with Holidays that we never got to say tachanun, while this month has no Festive days (besides Rosh Chodesh twice) or events (apart from Kiddush l'vana) and no fast days (except for Yom Kippur Kattan) or serious events (excluding the seventh day when we start asking for rain).

Some people don't like to call a month mar, because others could understand that as if we brand a month's fate negatively even before it gets started: bitter. That could be a self-fulfilling prophecy, Heaven forbid. Therefor they call it Ram-Cheshvan. Ram and Mar seem to be opposites again (like other Hebrew words when we change the order of the root letters). Ram means exalted. We don't call hard things bad because they will eventually lead to something good - rather, we call them bitter. When our viewpoint is high enough (ram) nothing will look bitter anymore (mar).

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Some people think rain falls from above. In fact it starts on earth. G^d has set up things is such that when people pray for rain the water can come down. This has been the case from the very start of the planet. When the world was still young there had not been any rain yet (Genesis 2:5), just mist to water the surface (2:6) because man hadn't worked the earth (2:5). The work the Tora refers to here, is of course the work of the heart: prayer. When Adam appeared he realized the need for rain, prayed and the rain started and the trees and the grasses sprouted forth past the surface (Rashi 2:5). It's the oldest prayer in the world it seems.

Have a good week, month and winter,

MM


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