Is rain in Israel such a big deal?
“Mashiv haruach u’morid hageshem …. He makes the wind blow and the rain descend.”
Egypt is watered by the Nile. No one has think about it. It just happens every year. The River floods and live-giving water revives the land. No prayer required.
In the Northeast United States, where I grew up, rain is usually abundant twelve months a year. One hardly thinks about it. No prayer required.
In Israel, levhavdil, each drop of rain is a miracle. We need to pray.
“For the Land to which you come, to possess it, is not like the land of Egypt that you left, where you would plant your seed and water it on foot like a vegetable garden, but the Land to which you cross over to possess it is a Land of hills and valleys; from the rain of heaven will it drink water …” (Dvarim 11:10) Do we not say twice a day that Hashem provides “rain for your land in its proper time, the early and late rains?”
But this is only as long as we are living by the Torah.
“Beware, lest your heart be seduced and you turn astray and serve gods of others and bow to them. Then the wrath of Hashem will blaze against you. He will restrain the heaven so there will be no rain….” (ibid 11:17)
In Israel, rain depends upon our loyalty to the Torah.
I don’t have to tell you that this year the world has turned dark. I am referring not only to the worldwide plague, not only to increasing anti-Semitism, but to Am Yisroel itself, which has suffered the loss of leaders and guides, great rabbis, who carried the torch of Torah in the darkness of exile.
The story of Purim takes place in a dark world, a world in which we are welcome to partake in a luxurious alien culture. We are invited into the king’s palace and everything is made “kosher” for us!
It is a trap.
My wife and I visited Germany years ago. We traveled there to locate my great grandfather’s burial place. We were told a story that we never forgot, how German Jews were spiritually strong for centuries, willing even to give up their lives al Kiddush Hashem … for the sake of Heaven. Only when the doors to the ghettoes were unlocked did their strength fail and the tsunami of assimilation wash over them.
“No decree against our people ever caused as much havoc as the proclamation by Napoleon of equal rights for all and the Toleranzedict (Edict of Tolerance) of the Emperor Joseph II. All throughout Europe, there now began an upheaval in Jewish communities. In central and western Europe, assimilation and intermarriage became rampant. Conversion to Christianity was now a frequent phenomenon.”
After the ghetto doors were opened and we were invited to join their society, that is when perhaps the greatest evil ever unleashed in the history of mankind erupted in a volcano of torture and hatred.
Before Purim, we fast. That is how Queen Esther turned everything around.
“This fast was an atonement for the sin of enjoying Ahasuerus’ banquet.” (Meam Loez quoted by Artscroll) Am Yisroel had to understand that we are sustained by our unique relationship with the Ruler of the Universe, not the gastronomic pleasures of the surrounding culture.
This year, Eretz Yisroel had rain shortly after Sukkos, but the following months were dry. Since Rosh Chodesh Shevat, however, Hashem had mercy on us. The Land of Israel was blessed with major rains. Last week, the skies opened for four days straight. Snow – a rarity – fell in higher elevations. The Kinneret, the Sea of Galilee, is rising, and the Kinneret waters all of Israel.
Hashem is showing us that He is with us in the darkness.
“There is an inner power in the heart of a Jew which does not allow him to give up. However numerous and grievous the hurts and persecutions that we suffer and have suffered for thousands of years, we do not give up …. We say, [in Psalm 126] ‘When Hashem returned the captivity of Tzion, we were as dreamers.’ The evil we experienced in the long night of Exile, and which we thought at the time so real and so fearsome, will turn out to have been nothing but a bad dream. The reality, as we shall then see, is and always was nothing but goodness and love….”
May we soon awake to the day filled with laughter, when all our external and internal enemies are overthrown, and we will laugh with a full and open heart!
“When Hashem will return the captivity of Tzion we will be like dreamers. Then our mouth will be filled with laughter and our tongue with glad song…. Those who tearfully sow will reap in glad song.” May we see it soon in our days!
Lehavdil: in contrast