Life Lessons with Judy Simon
Before making Aliyah to Israel, Tzvi Fishman was a Hollywood screenwriter. He has co-authored 4 books with Rabbi David Samson, based on the teachings of Rabbi Kook, Eretz Yisrael, Art of T'shuva, War and Peace, and Torat Eretz Yisrael.
As if Israel doesn’t have enough problems with a host of savage enemies, a government of corrupt and mediocre politicians, and millions of Jewish refuseniks who refuse to give up the exile, the water level of the Sea of Galilee is very low, and farmers are bracing for a dry and economically disastrous summer.
The Talmud teaches that the power over rain is one of the three keys that the Almighty has kept for Himself - the key of Rain, the key of Childbirth, and the key of the Resurrection of the Dead” (Taanit 2A).
Because the key of rain is in G-d’s keeping, when rain does not fall in Eretz Yisrael, we know that G-d Himself has turned off the faucet, because the Land of Israel is under the special Providence of G-d, as it says, "The Land where the eyes of our L-rd are always upon it from the beginning of the year to the end” (Devarim, 11:12). A lack of rainfall in Israel isn’t some freak disturbance of regional weather patterns, but, as the Talmud teaches, the result of our sins:
“Rabbi Tanchum ben Hamilai said, No rain falls unless the sins of Israel have been forgiven” (Taanit 7B).
The Talmud goes on to list many transgressions that cause the withholding of rain, but to understand the secret of the matter, we will turn to the holy Zohar.
It turns out that the secret is no mystery at all, as it explicitly states in the Shema:
“Take heed to yourselves, that your heart not be deceived, and you turn aside and worship other gods and bow down to them; and then the anger of the L-rd will be inflamed against you, and He will shut up the heaven that there be no rain, and that the Land yield not its fruit; and you perish quickly from the good Land which the L-rd gives you” (Devarim, 11:17).
The Zohar explains that the idol worship referred to in the Shema means sexual transgression. In punishment for misusing the “lower waters” of the seminal life force during sexual sin, G-d shuts up the heavenly “upper waters” of life sustaining rain (Zohar, Bereshit 189B). This relationship occurs specifically in the Land of Israel, because the G-d’s covenant bequeathing Eretz Yisrael to the Jewish People, symbolized the brit milah, is based on sexual holiness.
The Ramak, Rabbi Moshe Cordevero, was dean of the Safed academy of Kabbalists, immediately preceding Rabbi Yitzhak Luria, the Ari. The Ramak explains that the heavens are associated with the “sefirah” or spiritual channel “Tiferet.” From here, the Divine blessing of rain flows forth to the earth, identified with the sefirah of “Malchut.” The channel that conducts the blessing of rain from Tiferet to Malchut is the “Yesod,” associated with the atmosphere between heaven and earth. The Yesod acts as a spiritual faucet.
Therefore, when the channel of Yesod is damaged, rains are withheld from the earth. Since the sefirah of Yesod parallels the organ of the Brit in man, it follows that sexual transgression causes the greatest damage to the channel of Yesod, stunting the flow of rain and G-d’s blessing to the Land (See the commentary on the Zohar, “Matok M’Dvash,” Vayashev, 189B).
May we all endeavor to mend our sexual lapses, and may the Almighty have compassion upon us and grant us the blessing of rain, as it says, “And G-d saw their deeds, in that they turned from their evil way” (Yonah, 3:10).