We read twice a day: “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….” (Shema)
If we turn astray from Hashem – G-d forbid! – what is the first consequence?
Since we began saying “tal umatar livracha” this season in Eretz Yisroel, there has been precious little rain. Yes, we had a few days, but very little beside that, and day upon day dawned with clear skies. I have heard that a prominent rabbi is calling for extra tefillos.
We need rain not only physically, but also spiritually.
When it rains in the right season, it means that we are serving Hashem correctly. When rain does not come, it means that we are doing something wrong. If that happens, we have to look inside and ask ourselves what we are doing wrong. That is why we declare a taanis if there is a drought. We have to do teshuva.
When I think of rain, I think also of davening, meaning that tears should fall from our eyes like rain. “Sha’are d’maos lo ninalu … the Gates of Tears have not been locked” (Berachos 32b), even though the other gates of prayer have been locked. If we pray with tears, the prayers may get through.
I have mentioned before Reb Amos Bunim zt”l, a legendary defender of Am Yisroel, who always davenedwith tears. We need to cry out to Hashem from the depths of our soul, because we are in deep trouble and deep pain.
We read this week what is possibly the most tragic scene in all Chumash, the fight among the brothers, the Children of Israel, as a result of which Yosef ha Tzaddik was sold as a slave in Egypt. “Yosef dreamt a dream which he told his brothers, and they hated him.”
From this hatred we are still reeling and staggering! All of us!
Our yetzer hara rationalizes this hatred! He tells us there is a “good reason” for doing something wrong!
I can always rationalize my loshon hara, my feud, my argument! My yetzer hara says, “He is wrong and I am right! He is a troublemaker! He is causing all the problems. I have to knock him down!”
This morning in shul I got angry at someone. I started thinking how awful he is! Then he walked up to me after davening and he was no nice to me! Suddenly, I realized what an idiot I am! He’s the nicest guy in the world!
What’s wrong with me?
I am such an achshun!
If, for example, I say something in anger to my wife … right away I realize that I am wrong but it’s so hard to admit it. I have such a big ego! It is so hard to admit that I’m wrong! It is so hard to step back and adjust my own behavior in order to bring peace into my heart, into my home … or into the world.
Maybe that’s why the bracha for “shalom” is at the very end of Shemoneh Esreh. It comes only after we have worked on ourselves and done teshuva. And Shalom comes at the end of history! We are not there yet. We have to work on ourselves.
But the consequences are stupendous. We have to fix this, and fix it now!
Throughout history, the torture, the Churban, the Exiles, the Crusades, the Holocaust, the murder, the violence, famine, pain, sorrow, sickness, distress, all the unbearable burdens of our long Golus, it all started because the brothers fought. So we have to make a din v’cheshbon! We have to understand that it’s just not worth it! We have to stop fighting! That is priority number one!
The Ari Hakodosh said, “Before every Jew prays, he must take upon himself the positive mitzvah of ‘You shall love your fellow Jew as you love yourself.’” That means we cannot even start to speak with Hashem until we accept upon ourselves to love every Jew! My friends, our lives depend on this! We have to make it rain! From our eyes and from the sky!
“Remember the twelve tribes You caused to cross through the split waters … their offspring whose blood was spilt for You like water! Turn to us, for woes engulf our souls like water. For the sake of their righteousness, grant abundant water” (Prayer for Rain) and bring the Geulah Shelemah soon in our days!
Achshun: Stubborn person
Chumash: The Five Books of Moses
Din v’cheshbon: A spiritual reckoning
Yetzer ha ra: Evil Inclination