It has been a strange winter in the Land of Israel.
There was a frightening lack of rain the first few months of the rainy season.
Then around Chanukah came two weeks of heavy rain.
Following that, more drought, but in Mid-March about ten days of downpours.
Following that, more drought, but – amazingly! – at the end of Pesach, after the “end” of the rainy season, there were several days of torrential rain.
This year northern Israel received less than normal rainfall, but parts of the “arid” south received more than three times the average!
Hashem is telling us something.
We depend on His blessing. Other countries seem to operate according to “natural” weather patterns. England receives rain throughout the year. Desert areas receive almost nothing, however Egypt is watered annually from the Nile overflow.
But Israel is different. Israel is totally dependent upon tefillah and spiritual elevation.
“For the Land to which you come to possess it, 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, a Land that Hashem your G-d seeks out. The eyes of Hashem, your G-d are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to year’s end.” (Dvarim 11:10-12)
The rain of Israel falls directly from heaven. The climate depends on us! The “eyes of Hashem” are forever upon this Land. During Sukkos we daven for a beneficial rainy season. On Pesach we daven for life-giving summer dew. When we “hearken to [Hashem’s] commandments … [He] will provide rain … in its proper time….” Conversely, if we stray, G-d forbid, Hashem “will restrain the heaven so there will be no rain.” (Shema)
I asked a rav whether we can still call rain which falls after Pesach “gishmei bracha … rains of blessing,” and he answered, “We still need the rain.”
Yes, we need the rain. It has been a tough winter.
Jews are being murdered in the Land of Israel. Tears are falling like rain. The pain is deeper than the ocean. I want to tell you, my friends, why I think this is happening. Mida keneged mida: when we act as enemies toward our own brothers and sisters then our enemies are empowered. We have removed our own protection from ourselves.
What is wrong with us? Why do we do this to ourselves?
This week in Israel, the minority parties became incensed because the Prime Minister and Finance Minister used the expression “B’ezrat Hashem … with the help of G-d,” in a public statement. My first reaction was, “How low can we get? Our liberal brethren have reached the bottom! They are totally allergic to Hashem! We are separated by the Grand Canyon!”
Then I thought again.
Am I so much better? Do I really mean it when I say “B’ezrat Hashem”? Do I really trust Hashem? Why should I think I am any better than the skeptics?
My friends, let’s be honest. Now that we have finished Pesach, we have to ask ourselves: we are out of Mitzraim, but is Mitzraim out of us? We are in this together. If we are divided, how can we ask Hashem to save us? Am I better than the “other guy?” I’m not so sure!
When Yosef revealed his identity to his brothers, the Torah says, “Now Yosef could not restrain himself in the presence of his brothers …” (Beraishis 45:1) This implies that Yosef wanted to restrain himself, but was unable to. It would seem that a germ of sina was left unresolved. I believe that this is the cause of our agony to this very day.
Shalom Bayis is more important than policy.
The rain can teach us. We need tears of unity, tears of forgiveness. Fighting for policy is not worth fighting with your brother. Hashem will send us total protection if we act toward each other with compassion.
I want to tell you a story I heard from the amazing tour guide, our friend, Rabbi Avi Flax.
In the winter of 1962, only 50 milliliters of rain had fallen by Tu Bishvat, compared to the average of 550. A community of farmers gathered to daven, with the chazzan breaking down in tears. Back then it literally meant no income for the entire community. But despite their prayers, no rain arrived that year.
There is a species of melon which is unpopular in Israel but very popular in England. It's usually planted in April, harvested in June and shipped to the UK. The community decided that, since the weather was unseasonably warm, they might as well plant these melon seeds. Just before Pesach they harvested the crop and shipped the melons to England. The money they received was equal to the earnings of three years! Hashem has ways other than rain to shower us with His bounty. He has an infinite number of ways to protect us!
Our protection comes from Above! If we act “k’ish echad b’lev echad … like one man with one heart,” then we will have everything! Hashem wants His children to be loving friends.
That will turn everything around! Then the Light of Torah will illuminate the world!
Mida keneged mida: The result is appropriate to the cause
Shalom Bayis: peace in the home; peace among the
Children of Israel