Parshas Shemini Atzeres 5783
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On Shemini Atzeres when the chazan stands up at the front of the shul to say the special prayer for rain, in some places he sheds tears. Yes, I’ve seen that. In better places, he’s crying as he’s begging for rain.
Now, it could be that all of those tears are genuine – I imagine they are. And yet I’m suspicious that he’s thinking not only about rain. Maybe he’s thinking about parnassah, good health, yes. Other things that we sometimes include in the tefillas hageshem, yes. But rain itself? He’s davening for a rainy day? I’m not convinced. But the truth is that it’s all prayers for rain. And we go all out for it! On Hoshana Rabbah we see, the chazan stands up – he even wears his kittel – and he’s praying plaintively, הוֹשַׁעְנָא, הוֹשַׁעְנָא! He’s crying out, אָנָּא הוֹשַׁעְנָא הוֹשִׁיעָה נָא! Please save us, Hashem! He’s talking about rain; that’s the theme of the day.
Even the mysterious custom that the nevi’im instituted of striking the ground with the aravos, that’s also for rain. It’s a form of praying for rain! People have no idea what’s taking place! They’re thinking about everything else except for the most important thing. So much time we’re walking around the bimah and saying words, only that we don’t begin to know what we’re talking about. That’s why it happens that the same person who davened all morning, as soon as he finishes davening he walks out of the shul and he sees that it’s raining and he says, “What a nasty day!”
Inviting The Nuisance
Imagine this: Suppose you would call up your friend, once and twice, again and again, and you said to him, “Please answer me. הוֹשַׁעְנָא! Please come to me! Please come to visit me. Please. Please. Please answer me. Aneini! I need you. Please come over. Come! Come! Come! הוֹשַׁעְנָא!”
And so, finally he gives in. You’re begging incessantly, so finally he comes over to your house and rings the bell. You stick your head out of the window and you see your friend is here. “Ugh! What a nuisance!” you think, “just as I was getting comfortable, he has to bother me!” So you go to the door and you tell him, “Stop bothering me already!”
You asked him to come! You asked him ten times, a hundred times! He didn’t want to come; you bothered him so much until he finally acquiesced, and this is how you welcome him?
Same thing by us. Hakodosh Boruch Hu is being bothered by us so much for this great gift of rain and then when it finally comes, there’s complaints. You’re shouting and praying about rain, rain, rain, and then when the rain comes, you stick your head out of the window and give a psak, “Nasty day. What a nuisance.” How could that be? You just got through asking for it!
Public School Songs
The answer is that we don’t know what we’re saying. It could be we’re saying the words carefully; could be we know what the words mean, the teitch, but actually we don’t know what we’re saying because we don’t appreciate the rain.
Now, it could be we’re not to blame. We’ve been trained from childhood to do the wrong thing. In America the children are taught a song, “Rain, rain, go away…” I don’t know about today, but I remember that’s how they used to teach in the schools. It was a song; when we saw rain coming down so that’s what we sang. It was in the public school but I’m afraid that it’s sung in the yeshivas and beis yaakovs too. Even in the good Jewish home a mother might look out the window at the rain and say, “Kinderlach; it looks nasty out there. It’s going to be bad weather today.” And so our minds become polluted; we acquire American minds.
Learning From the Muslims
That’s why we have to learn from the Mohammedans. Mohammedans have a prejudice; they never criticize the weather. There’s not much to learn from them but this, yes. We have to learn from them that you don’t criticize the weather. There’s not good weather and bad weather. Weather is good! As long as there’s weather, it’s good.
But as good as all weather is, Hoshana Rabbah and Shemini Atzeres remind us that more than anything, the best weather is the rainy weather we have right now. Rain is good! It’s very good!
And if we’re committing ourselves these days to pray for rain – and all winter long too – so we should at least feel some sort of responsibility to appreciate the rain! Tomorrow morning (Hoshana Rabah) I’m sure all of you will spend a long time praying for rain – it takes hours in some places, and so the first step is to realize that rain is a great gift, a tremendous happiness.
So that’s our job tonight. Tonight we’re going to spend some time studying מַשִּׁיב הָרוּחַ וּמוֹרִיד הַגֶּשֶׁם. It’s an important subject and therefore let’s do it at least once in our lives. At least once in history Hakodosh Boruch Hu should see that we appreciate His gift of rain at least a little bit.
Now, I understand that you think I’m exaggerating. “He’s going to talk now about rain?” you’re thinking, “It’s boring.” Well, sometimes in order to learn important things you have to be bored. You don’t come in here to be entertained; you come to acquire a mind. And sometimes you have to hear things you’re not accustomed to, things that don’t fit with your own ideas. And so it’s worth it to be bored. Only don’t fall asleep because then you won’t hear anything.
And so we begin: if we would look at rain through the eyes of our Sages we would be very much excited about it. גָּדוֹל יוֹם הַגְּשָׁמִים – How great is the day when it rains, יוֹתֵר מִיּוֹם שֶׁנִּתְּנָה בּוֹ תּוֹרָה – bigger than the day of Matan Torah (Taanis 7a). It rained all day today. It means that it was Matan Torah today; no, it was bigger than Matan Torah! First the Gemara said, כְּיוֹם – it’s as big as the day when the Torah was given. But then it was discussed by the Sages and Rava said it’s a mistake, an understatement. It’s מִיּוֹם! It’s bigger! The day when it rains is bigger than the day we stood at Har Sinai.
Today was even greater than the day that Hashem will revive the dead! גָּדוֹל יוֹם הַגְּשָׁמִים מִיּוֹם שֶׁל תְּחִיַּת הַמֵּתִים – The day of rain is greater than techiyas hameisim (ibid.). How is that?! Techiyas hameisim?! All the dead will be reconstituted! It will be the most exciting day. No. When it rains that’s even more exciting.
When you look out of the window and you see the water coming down, by logic you have to be meshuga with excitement; it deserves more excitement than Matan Torah. Only that naturally, you can’t expect that of us. How much can a man be excited already? After all, we’re human beings and our nerves would wear out. We don’t have the nerves to get excited all the time. And yet as much as possible we have to excite our minds, our thoughts, our daas, and try to raise ourselves up to the truth of what a rainy day means.
The fact that it happens frequently doesn’t mitigate its greatness. Suppose it would have rained only once in history. Imagine such a thing! One time in history drops are falling from the sky giving us drinking water and bathing water and fruits and vegetables and grains and flowers. Then we would really be excited. It never rained before! Why should it rain? Do you find packages of biscuits coming down from the sky? When it rains, it is no less than if biscuits were falling down to feed us. That’s what it is.
You know when the mann fell from Heaven it was a neis of the first magnitude. Food falling from heaven! But imagine a child was born in the midbar and from the very beginning that’s what he saw. Let’s say you were born a few years after the mann started; so you’re in the Midbar now, you’re thirty years old and you have had mann every day in your life. You’re not excited about it. You think it’s nothing. If it would rain water! Ooh wah, that would be something!
So you see that the biggest miracle is no longer a miracle to you. If it happens every day for years and years, forty years, so you think that’s how it has to be. Our habit overcomes our reason. But if we would gain some sense, some daas, we would look at the street from the doorway and leap with excitement. Look what’s taking place outside!” That’s how a frum Jew is supposed to react to a rainy day. And therefore we should study it. It’s a great pity that we should live all our lives and not understand what it means gadol yom hageshamim.
Ice Cream In Your Ears
But before we begin, we have to remind ourselves of the purpose. Some people get excited about ‘nature’ but they’re missing the entire purpose. You see sometimes a person will say, “Ahh! Isn’t the wildflower a beautiful thing. Ah yah yay!” Or some will go and make an Audubon society and become enraptured over birds, the various beaks and wings and colors. But if you’re not becoming excited over Hashem – if your excitement stops with the birds or the rain or the wildflower then it’s nothing; it’s a big zero.
And therefore whatever we say tonight we can never forget the underlying premise and that is daas; we are excited about rain because the purpose of rain is to give us daas Hashem. When we look at the rainfall we’re expected to become more and more aware of Hakodosh Boruch Hu. We’ll talk soon about how to accomplish that, but the first thing is to know that this is the ultimate purpose of rain, daas Hashem.
It doesn’t mean you have to go out into the rain and get wet. I always say, rain is like ice cream; ice cream is also good, but ice cream in your ears is not comfortable.
And so whether you’re under the umbrella or you’re standing inside your house by the window looking out at the rain, make sure to enjoy the rain and give a compliment to Hashem. That’s the purpose of the raindrops. A person who has seichel doesn’t say, “It’s a pity that it’s raining.” He’s so happy that it’s raining. Every drop on the window pane is a simchah. He looks at the diamonds on the window pane. “Isn’t it beautiful,” he says.
The Silly Sad Poet
I once told you about a Hebrew poet in Europe, who wanted to make a poem. It was raining outside and as the rain was hitting the window, he was imagining that it was like tears of sadness falling on the window pane. So this ‘chochom’ wrote a poem like this: מַאי קָא מַשְׁמַע לָן הַגֶּשֶׁם – What does the rain teach us? מָה בָּא הוּא לְסַפֵּר – What is it coming to say? טִיפּ טִיפּ עַל חַלּוֹנוֹתֵנוּ – Drip, drip on our window panes, כְּאִישׁ בִּבְכִי מְמָרֵר – like a man weeping bitterly.” That’s what this shoteh saw in the rain. He was a good poet but he was a shoteh; he saw raindrops pattering on the window pain, so he said, “It’s rain of tears. It’s a weeping of sadness.”
Now if he would have come here, he would have learned to be a happy man instead of a depressed fool. He would have learned that rain teaches us that Hashem is a tov u’maitiv! He would have learned daas Hashem from the rain. Every drop is a pearl, a diamond.
Say that to your little children, by the way. Train them when they’re little children to look that way. “Chana! Come to the window. You see those diamonds on the window?”
“What diamonds?” little Chanale says. “Where? I don’t see any diamonds. Those are just water drops.”
“The drops are diamonds! They’re so precious!”
Don’t Skip the Words
Now, isn’t it a shame that we see drops of daas all winter long and yet we’re not learning the lessons they’re trying to teach us? And that’s why when the great opportunity that comes along every year at the end of Sukkos, when we start saying again the words “מַשִּׁיב הָרוּחַ וּמוֹרִיד הַגֶּשֶׁם” in our shemoneh esrei, we should make sure to think about what we’re saying.
Now, the frum Jew, he becomes a bit apprehensive because he’s afraid he might skip it; he might skip those four words and then he’s going to have to repeat the shemoneh esrei. There are even some Jews who the first thirty days they put a pencil in their siddur, or a key or something else to mark the place, as a reminder they shouldn’t skip. They’re worried about it, and rightly so.
But it’s a pity to say the words and skip the meaning; even if it’s not raining outside — there will be a lot of beautiful sunny days in the winter — when we say those words it’s an opportunity to acquire some of that daas we were speaking about before; it means you have to think about these words, “You cause the wind to blow and the rain to come down.”
The Grand Architect
In English we say, “It’s raining.” What does that mean “It’s raining”? It doesn’t rain by itself! Even in Yiddish, you hear a good Jew say, “Ess regent.” Es regent gornisht! The wind too. Here a frum man is walking down the street and a wind blows in his face and he says “A vint blozt.” “A wind blows”?! Winds don’t blow on their own.
מַשִּׁיב הָרוּחַ וּמוֹרִיד הַגֶּשֶׁם means He blows the wind and He brings down the rain. Hashem is the one doing it. In lashon hakodesh it doesn’t rain and it’s not windy. That’s in goyish. In the Torah language, He blows the wind and He makes it rain.
Now, it doesn’t only mean He sends rain down. It’s much more complicated than that. Rain is a phenomenon that requires the participation of many forces of ‘nature.’ Before those precious drops finally come down, there is a great deal of wire-pulling on the part of the great Designer and Architect who stands behind the scenes.
The Giant Conveyor Belt
First of all, before the rain can fall down, it has to come up. It had to get up there some way. How did that happen?
So we understand that the sun was busy pumping by means of evaporation. The sun is pouring millions of tons of energy every day — I should say every minute — onto the surface of the earth and to a very big extent that energy is used up in the work of evaporating water from the surface of the oceans. Tremendous masses of water, millions of tons of water daily, rise up from the surface of the earth in the form of vapor and become clouds.
Now, that’s nothing yet because what good are the clouds when they’re suspended over the ocean? Most clouds form over the ocean from where they originated but what good is it if it will rain down in the ocean again? Nobody is going to plant in the ocean. It’s the continents that need the rain.
And so before morid ha’geshem, first Hashem is mashiv ruchos. The winds are called in by the Borei Olam. עוֹשֶׂה מַלְאָכָיו רוּחוֹת – Hashem makes the winds into His messengers (Tehillim 104:4), and the wind begins to blow these masses of water vapor and the clouds are blown inland over the continents.
It’s a remarkable miracle! There are special breezes, special winds, that are always blowing inland from the ocean. And like a huge conveyor belt they take these tremendous masses of vapor that hover over the ocean and they blow them inland over the continents. And instead of uselessly falling into the oceans, the rain falls instead onto fields where it turns into apples and pears and pineapples and bananas and oranges and all good things.
Mystery of Gravity
Because what does Hakodosh Boruch Hu do after מַשִּׁיב הָרוּחַ, after the clouds are blown over Nebraska and South Dakota? Then He’s מוֹרִיד הַגֶּשֶׁם. The water becomes heavier again; it condenses and it begins coming down.
But why should it come down? Why can’t the water fall towards the moon or it should fall towards the sun? Why does it fall towards the earth? So this every child knows; it’s the force of gravity. It’s a certain force that everybody speaks about, but nobody understands – even the greatest savants don’t know what that is. They can tell you mathematically how the force of gravity is expected to work according to the mass and according to the distance and so on, but what is the force of gravity and why it works that way, nobody knows.
It’s a mystery; a mysterious miracle. Hakodosh Boruch Hu made the water become heavy and by the force of gravity it comes down. And what you see now is the miracle of gravity pulling the water down to the earth for our benefit.
But actually we’re just beginning the subject because how can that salty ocean water be a benefit to us? You know when the water was in the oceans, it wasn’t clean. Sailors have died from thirst while surrounded by seawater. Sea water is not potable. You can’t drink ocean water.
But when it rains, all of this seawater comes down pure in the form of clean rain. How did that happen? When it evaporates, doesn’t a salty taste go along with it?
The answer is, it went through a distillery. When the sun evaporates the ocean water it distills it and the water vapor doesn’t take along any impurities; all the impurities were left down here and only pure water vapor goes up into the clouds.
And that pure water vapor, as clean as it was b’sheishes yemei bereishis, or almost, comes down again for a new cycle of pure water, to give life to the earth.
It’s important to consider that when you look at the rain. This rain coming down now is the same rain that came down at the beginning of maaseh bereishis. When the world began, this rain, the same rain came down.
It’s been coming down again and again, only it’s been recycled. It’s the same clean water that our forefathers drank, that’s the plain truth – you’re drinking second-hand rain. A lot of the water was already in the bodies of animals and humans and was urinated out again. All the runoff water, dirty water, makes its way down the mountains and rivers and streams and it goes back into the sea. Water that was in the carcasses of animals that died, water was in decaying plants, and eventually it all made its way to the ocean. Billions of gallons of sewage are emptied into the oceans every day.
Don’t worry about it though; it tastes just as good. Mr. Shelby reminded me of that. As he was driving me here tonight he remarked, “Just as good as it was in Avraham Avinu’s time.” He’s right – it’s the same taste. But more than that, it’s the same water! We’re drinking second-hand rain. That’s the truth. Only it’s purified. It’s one of the great nissim of Olam Hazeh. The world is a wonderful machine of cycling, recycling.
A Puzzling Gemara
And so when we come to the prayers for rain on Hoshana Rabah and Shemini Atzeres and all winter long when we say מַשִּׁיב הָרוּחַ וּמוֹרִיד הַגֶּשֶׁם and וְתֵן טַל וּמָטָר – whenever it rains too – let’s keep in mind we are marveling at the first and the greatest recycling process, the rain cycle that keeps the world sustained. It’s foolproof. It’s going to continue until Hakodosh Boruch Hu says stop. And that’s one of the great features of מוֹרִיד הַגֶּשֶׁם.
I want to talk now about another feature of geshem, something that’s included in the gift of rain but a little more hidden from the eyes.
In Mesichta Kesubos (10b), the Gemara enumerates the benefits of rain and one of the benefits is stated as follows: מָטָר מְזַבֶּל – Rain fertilizes.
Now when I was a boy and I learned Mesichta Kesubos, I didn’t understand that. A lot of things even today I don’t understand but I remember at that time being puzzled. If you want to fertilize your garden, will you pour water on it? You have to take manure or potash; the soil needs chemicals to help the water grow the food. Water on its own is not enough. I couldn’t see how matar mizabeil, how water fertilizes.
Chemistry and Relationships
Many years later I discovered how true it is. Listen to this. It’s another thing to think about when you’re praying for rain or when you’re stuck in a downpour.
Above every acre of ground, there is a tremendous amount of air. And air, as you know, is about 70% nitrogen and a bit less than 25% oxygen and then some other smaller ingredients. That’s what air is.
Now this nitrogen and oxygen in the air is the ideal fertilizer. If we could get the nitrogen and oxygen in the air down in the ground, we would solve all problems of fertilizer. The problem is that the oxygen by itself is not a fertilizer and the nitrogen is also not a fertilizer. In order to be a fertilizer, it has to combine. But they won’t. If you know basic chemistry then you know that nitrogen is an inert gas; it hates to combine. Oxygen is a very congenial element, very friendly, and it’s willing to combine with anything. But nitrogen is not interested – it’s a loner.
The Lightning Shidduch
And because no shidduch is made that’s why you don’t have any fertilizer. Instead you have to bring in your own fertilizer; you have to buy bags of ill-smelling stuff and pour it out in your garden. Or in the olden days, you had a goat. You tied the goat to a fence in the garden and he got busy fertilizing your vegetable patch. And all the time, you’re looking up at this column of unused fertilizer and you’re thinking, “If only they would combine! Isn’t it a pity?”
Hakodosh Boruch Hu, however, has pity on us and He sends lightning. When the lightning streaks through the air, it creates a path that is so hot that even the lazy nitrogen can’t resist. The nitrogen refuses to enter this shidduch with the oxygen but lightning is such an effective shadchan that it forces the nitrogen and the oxygen to unite and it becomes nitrates. Nitrates! That’s fertilizer! Now you know why Hashem created lightning. Every time there is lightning, He’s creating great amounts of fertilizer for you.
The problem is that it’s in the form of a gas. Bags of fertilizers don’t fall down after lightning. It’s a gas. It’s waiting in the air doing nothing. How does it come down?
The answer is morid hageshem! As the rain comes down it dissolves the gas and brings these nitrates down to the earth. Every raindrop becomes fertilizer too. And now we understand what our Sages said. מָטָר מְזַבֶּל – rain is actually a fertilizer. Not water. If you take water out of your well, it won’t fertilize your field, but rain as it comes down and it dissolves the nitrates and it brings it down, it fertilizes the field. And because of this wonder plan, that’s why the earth is constantly being fattened and replenished.
A Deluge of Kindliness
And that’s why it’s מַשִּׁיב הָרוּחַ וּמוֹרִיד הַגֶּשֶׁם and right away we say מְכַלְכֵּל חַיִּים בְּחֶסֶד – He supplies life with everything in kindliness. Because that’s what we think about whenever we think of the rain cycle; that Hashem is feeding us with nissei nissim.
And so when we say מַשִּׁיב הָרוּחַ וּמוֹרִיד הַגֶּשֶׁם wouldn’t it be worthwhile, at least once in our lives, to stop a little bit in our gallop towards עוֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם בִּמְרוֹמָיו and contemplate what we’re saying: “מַשִּׁיב הָרוּחַ! Ay yah yay! וּמוֹרִיד הַגֶּשֶׁם! Ay yah yay!” B’shaas hadchak you can even say it twice if you want. Rebbehs have done that; they’ve said it twice or three times. It’s a good idea to stop and think what you’re saying; for once in your life, wake up and acquire some deiah, thank Hakodosh Boruch Hu for this great blessing of the wind and the rain.
Your Watery Friend
Now, included in the attitudes that we have to acquire when it comes to appreciating the mystery of rain is one very important attitude and that is that we too are rain – people are made up of raindrops.
It could be that when you hear these words for the first time it seems foolish and therefore in order to understand the greatness of rain, we must go back to the study of chemistry. Chemistry, you have to know, is a factual subject. It deals with mathematics, with things you can measure. That’s what chemistry is. Today, unfortunately, even within chemistry they introduced theories. Wherever they can put some poison, they put it in, even chemistry. But in reality, it doesn’t belong there. Chemistry is not a theoretical science. It is a mathematical science – it’s exact.
Now, chemistry tells us that the human body is composed of almost three-quarters water. Look at your neighbor; if you look at yourself you won’t believe it, but take a look at your neighbor. He’s a bag of water; he’s around 70% water. And no matter what you’ll say, you can’t get away from that fact; it’s a mathematical truism. I am water and you are water. And that water came from someplace. It came down from the clouds on a rainy day.
It’s Raining Lubavitchers
I know it sounds ridiculous. It takes a long time to get these things into our numb skulls because we’re not accustomed to thinking. But no matter if you’ll smile or grin or laugh or chuckle, it won’t help. You cannot wave off the fact that you came down from the clouds in the form of rain. You’ll say, “It wasn’t I. It was only rain.” But you are rain! If 70% of you isn’t you, then what are you? You’re only the other 30%? The truth is that even that 30% is a result of rain. It’s all the result of rain, but 70% is nothing but pure H20, nothing but water. And it had to come from someplace; and we know it comes from only one place.
Think that over. It means that one day in the past you drifted down from the clouds and you settled on Ocean Parkway. Probably you settled on a field in North Dakota and people were walking by, cowboys with their big boots, and they were trampling on you. But you turned into wheat eventually and the wheat was milled and shipped here and it became bread and matzos. And your parents ate them and that’s where you come from. Chemically it’s true. If someone would undertake to make a chemical analysis of you, you couldn’t refute that. Because you’re almost 70% snow and water and ice.
I was speaking to my friend, Mr. Shelby, just now coming in the car. I hadn’t intended to talk about this subject but as we were driving it was raining and as we were admiring the raindrops I decided it’s a timely subject. And as we drove past the Mirrer Yeshiva I was thinking, “The average age of Mirrer Yeshiva in the Beis HaMedrash, is let’s say about 22, 23. So it means that about twenty years ago they all came down in the rains. It was raining in Ocean Parkway, raining in Brownsville, wherever they lived, and that’s actually when the whole Yeshiva came down. And it’s not an exaggeration; it’s chemically true. The whole Sha’arei Tzion came down in the rain. The whole Lakewood, the whole Lubavitch, the whole Satmar, they all came down from the clouds.
Puddles And Bochurim
And so if you’re driving home tonight, as your car plows through the puddles on Ocean Parkway and big splashes of water are spurting up, have derech eretz. That’s the future of our people. And it’s not a fantasy. There is nothing as true as this statement.
But just to make it a little more enjoyable let’s go away from the bochurim. We love the Mirrer bochurim and the Lakewood bochurim and Shaarei Tziyon bochurim but even more, we can appreciate things that are a little closer to us. Like what? I’m talking about apples and pears and bananas and peaches. We like them too. And they’re also coming down with the rain. Because it’s nothing but rain that creates them.
What a miracle a tree is! What we call an apple tree or a pear tree, it’s more correct to call it a water tree. We don’t because we look at the final product but really they’re water trees. I explained this recently. They once planted a tree, an apple tree, in a big tub full of earth and left it outside. They weighed the tree and they weighed the earth. And every year, the tree produced apples, year after year. And they weighed the apples every year and added it up. Bushels and bushels of apples. After ten years they had gathered more than a thousand pounds of apples.
At the end of these ten years, they again weighed the tree and the earth and they discovered that the earth had diminished only a couple of ounces. The earth was only a couple of ounces in weight lighter than it had been years ago.
So the question is: Where did the apples come from? For ten years, many pounds of apples had come off this tree and the tree had drawn its nourishment from the earth. But the earth is still there! And the answer is that the apples actually take out very little of the earth. It’s important, this little bit it takes, but by weight it’s only a tiny fraction of the fruit. The fruit is almost entirely water. It’s the rain that becomes apples.
How does rain become apples? By means of miracles. Rain is hydrogen and oxygen. And in the air, there is carbon dioxide. The tree, every plant, has the ability to take these simple materials, carbon dioxide and water, and break them down and then reassemble them. And it’s a marvel how many different combinations can be made from these elements. You know there are many hundreds of carbohydrates and each one looks different and tastes different and has different properties.
And all of these materials, the tree is able to make from nothing but water and air. Sunlight helps out and a tiny trace of materials from the soil but if you’ll analyze by weight, most of the fruits are nothing but water. And therefore when it rains, not only the next generation is coming down, but all the fruits and wheat and rice, all food, is coming down.
Gifts Are Descending
So imagine we’re looking through the window now. The rain has no color but in our minds’ eye it’s especially colorful. We know red cherries are coming down right now, red cherries. Apples too. Delish apples and Cortland apples and McIntosh Apples, Winesap. Every kind of luscious fruit. Pears, green pears, seckel pears, pears with a red blush on their cheeks. Golden oranges and apricots. Blueberries and bananas. They’re all coming down. Watermelons are coming down. What are watermelons? At least there you hear the words water so it gives it away. But really everything is water. Fruit are actually physically coming down. It’s not a mashal. And of course cabbages and lettuce; they’re all water. And potatoes. Every imaginable fruit is coming down right now.
Besides the fact that water is also coming down. Water to drink, water that becomes soda, water that gets into grapes and becomes wine, and this water turns into the tears that wash our eyes. It turns into our blood. It turns into the liquids that lubricate our joints. It turns into every part of our body. This water that comes down now will turn into us.
Now, if you’ll tell me that you listened well tonight but you’re still not so sure you’ll be able to overcome the habit of not thinking, I’ll say that you’re right. It’s not so simple to rid ourselves of the habit of not seeing the greatness of rain. Coming here and talking about these things is only the beginning.
Get To Work On This
Don’t disdain it however – it’s an excellent beginning. It’s tremendous! There’s one little place in Brooklyn, where people are sitting like philosophers and they are studying the chasdei Hashem of rain in its little details. It could be that we’re the only ones tonight speaking about this great subject. This place might be the only one in all of Brooklyn, maybe in all of America, maybe in the whole world, one little place where people are preparing to say מַשִּׁיב הָרוּחַ וּמוֹרִיד הַגֶּשֶׁם.
And therefore don’t be sorry you came tonight. It’s a very good thing you came despite the rain outside because we learned a lot about this important subject. But still it’s only the beginning of the rest of our lives. We have to think about these ideas while we’re walking on the street. We think about them when we’re sitting down to eat. When it rains, you surely should make sure to think these thoughts.
You have to keep on working until it becomes part of your thought routine because complaining comes easy. By ease, all you do is follow the habits of the multitude. If you ‘lean back and relax’ like it says in the taxi, you’ll fall asleep and you won’t see the scenery; you’ll miss all the great lessons of life. You have to work hard to become great. It means that you have to get busy talking about the rain. Talk to others about it. Let them know what you heard tonight.
Talk To Yourself
However, I must tell you that it won’t be so easy to tell others. When you got married you thought you married an idealist, so you might start telling your wife about the rain. So for the first couple of days she’ll have to be polite and listen to you but after a while she says, “Stop, please. Stop! I heard this stuff already. You already told me last week about how we are all 70% water!”
So maybe you’ll try it on your friends. But they’re not interested either. They’ll take you for a fool. They’re going to think you’re eccentric and after a while they’ll stop listening to you. They’ll smile at you, blank smiles, but that’s the best you’ll get.
And so, you’ll have to talk to yourself. There’s nobody else to talk to after all and so we might see you walking down Ocean Parkway, muttering to yourself about the rain. Don’t be disheartened! You’ve got to realize you’re becoming a great and successful person, only don’t expect company in your success. As you go higher on the mountain, there are less and less people, less and less company. When you get to the top, there’s no company at all.
The Most Sane Person
It’s hard to be an idealist; it means you have to be different, you have to be a little bit of a meshuggener in the eyes of others. But מוּטָב שֶׁיִּהְיֶה שׁוֹטֶה כָּל יָמָיו בְּעֵינֵי הַבְּרִיּוֹת, it’s better to be a lunatic all your life in the eyes of Mankind, וְאֶל יִהְיֶה רָשָׁע שָׁעָה אַחַת לִפְנֵי הַמָּקוֹם, in order that Hakodosh Boruch Hu should approve of you. And you can be sure that the more you study this subject the more sane you’ll become. There’s nothing like the sanity of daas Hashem and there’s nothing like rain to encourage that acquisition.
The truth is it’s one of my favorite topics and I wish we could speak longer. Only that we’re running out of time for tonight. We have to get some sleep tonight and that way tomorrow morning we’ll be able to get up early for davening. And this time we’ll have a successful Hoshana Rabah because we know what we’re davening for. We’ll have a successful Shemini Atzeres too and a successful winter and a successful rest of our lives because we’re acquiring daas. Daas Hashem! That’s called living successfully! Our time is up, so I wish you all a pleasant Yom Tov. וְשָׂמַחְתָּ בְּחַגֶּךָ וְהָיִיתָ אַךְ שָׂמֵחַ.
Have A Wonderful Yom Tov
Getting Excited Over Rain
As we begin praying for rain we must keep in mind not to disdain it when it actually comes. This week I will bli neder stop for 5 seconds before I pray for rain, and think about what I read in this booklet. Additionally, next time it rains, I will speak to someone, perhaps even myself, about the great kindliness Hashem is showering us with.
Recap: After spending time in the Jerusalem Prison for trying to build the Beis Hamikdash in the middle of Rechov Shmuel Hanavi, the judge ordered Tzadok “Hatzadik” to be released in middle of the prison’s daytime Simchas Beis Hashoeiva, only for him to be immediately arrested for stealing seforim from the prison on his way out.
Rav Volender was still speaking to the prisoners as Tzadok “Hatzadik” was brought back in handcuffs to the prison sukkah.
“Tzadok, back so soon?” asked Rav Volender.
“Rebbe, I was just doing as you told us to do! You said that just like after Sukkot we need to take what we gained from the sukkah with us, so too, we must take the Torah we learned with us when we leave prison!”
“No, no, Tzadok, I didn’t mean to physically take things with you from prison. You need to take it with you in your mind!” – Turning to the guard he said, “Yigal, why don’t you undo Tzadok’s handcuffs. I think this was a misunderstanding. I’ll speak to the warden and make sure he doesn’t press charges.
“Tzadok, why don’t you join us for the rest of the Simchas Beis Hashoeiva and then I’ll personally escort you out of the prison.”
The guard released Tzadok from his handcuffs and Tzadok gratefully took a seat in the sukkah and reached for a cookie.
After Tzadok made a ‘borei minei mezonos’ and a ‘leisheiv basukkah’, Rav Volender turned to Tzadok.
“Tzadok, I must say it’s nice to see you without your prison uniform on,” he said with a smile. “Maybe you’ll come back and visit me without getting arrested again?”
“I hope so,” said Tzadok. “This time I’m going to wait until I see Eliyahu Hanavi before trying to build the Beis Hamikdash again.”
“Why don’t you come by on Simchas Torah?” Rav Volender asked. “You can dance with us and join us for the Yom Tov seudah.”
“Oh, I love Simchas Torah!” Tzadok exclaimed. “You should see how I dance! Nobody stamps their feet like I do during Tzavei Yeshuos Yaakov!”
“Ah,” said Rav Volender. “And do you know why we dance so hard and stomp our feet on Simchas Torah?”
“Because it makes the song sound better,” Tzadok replied. And as if to demonstrate, he started singing “Tzavei! Tzavei! Tzavei-Tzavei!” stamping his feet on the floor of the sukkah.”
“Well, beautiful singing and dancing is important to Simchas Torah,” Rav Volender said. “But let me tell you what I heard from Rav Avigdor Miller Zt”l. You know how we talked about the need to take the sukkah with us after Yom Tov is over? Do you know how we do that?”
“Well, to take the whole sukkah is hard. Maybe if I had a donkey like Bilaam I could do it” Tzadok said doubtfully. “I can definitely take some of the schach with me though,” he added generously. “I’ll hang it on my ceiling so I have the segulah of the sukkah the whole year long.”
“No, no, Tzadok,” Rav Volender said. “Remember what I said about taking things with us in our mind?”
“Oh yeah,” Tzadok mumbled, rubbing his wrists where the handcuffs were a few minutes earlier.
“So Rav Miller explained that on Simchas Torah, as we sing and dance and stomp our feet, we need to be stomping the ideas of the sukkah into our mind. It’s the last chance before we go back to regular life. And each time we put our foot down while dancing, we need to be concentrating on the lessons that we learned on sukkos and think ‘I am putting these lessons into my mind so that I have them with me for the entire year!’”
Now Rav Volender started stomping his feet. “Tzavei! Tzavei! Tzavei-Tzavei!” he sang. “As we sing on Simchas Torah, we need to be focused, not just on the singing and dancing, but on the words that we are saying and on remembering that the sukkah is not just for sukkos, but something we must stomp into our minds so that continue to think about them all winter long!”
“Wow, Rebbe!” Tzadok said, his face shining. “I can’t wait to experience Simchas Torah in the way you just described. It sounds better than any segulah I ever thought of!”
Rav Volender looked at Tzadok with a smile. “Tzadok, I can’t wait to see you on Simchas Torah and we will sing and dance together, as we prepare our heads for the year ahead of us. Now come, let’s make a brocha acharonah and I will take you out of the prison and to freedom.”
Takeaway: When we jump up and down on Simchas Torah, we should think about the words of the song and try to stamp those lessons into our head as strongly as possible.