The 'after the holidays' rain test

​​​​​​​The Land of Israel desperately needs rain during the winter, so why postpone praying for rain for 15 days from the end of Sukkot?

Rabbi Shlomo Sobol ,

Rabbi Shlomo Sobol
Rabbi Shlomo Sobol
INN: Daniel Malichi

Parshat Noach, which is replete with water, helps us to connect between the holiday of Sukkot and the seventh day of Hebrew month of Cheshvan. On Sukkot we are judged as to how much rain we will get that year, on Shmini Atzeret, we begin to mention the rains in our tefillot (prayers) and the 7th of Cheshvan it is the day when the people of Eretz Yisrael begin to directly ask G-d for rain and say "ותן טל ובמט לברכה".

The Mishnah in Gemara Ta'anit discusses the question of why there is a 15-day interval between the mention of the rain on Shmini Atzeret and the direct request for rain. After all, it would have been more appropriate to start asking for rain immediately at the end of Sukkot, at the time when the rains begin to be mentioned in the tefillot.

The Mishnah explains that the reason is "so that the last one in Israel will reach the Euphrates River." That is, since there were those who came from afar to the Temple on Sukkor, and we want to make sure that they all return home and not suffer from the rain while on the way, we postpone the request for rain until the 7th of Cheshvan when the last pilgrims will have returned to his home.

The reason that the Mishnah mentions seems puzzling. We all know how much the land of Israel needs rain. And yet, in order that one particular Jew not get wet from the rain while on his journey home, is that a reason that the whole of Israel should refrain from asking for the rains that they so desperately need? Moreover, the prayer of the High Priest on Yom Kippur as he comes out of the Holy of Holies says "and do not let enter before you the prayers of travelers (to withhold rain) when the world needs it." If so, why do we postpone the request for the rains that are such a vital need for the people of Israel just to benefit some travelers who have not had time to return home?


The biggest test is the test of the request for rain. Can we wait and wait to request rain, even though it is such an important need, so that the same Jew we celebrated with in Jerusalem a few days ago can return home safely?
We can offer the following answer: As we all know, we are in the period of "after the holidays". The festival of Sukkot creates a wonderful unity among Jews as it says, "All of Israel is able to sit together in one Sukkah."

During the month of Tishrei the nation of Israel goes through a process of sanctification and purification with the climax occurring on the holiday of Sukkot when all of Israel came together with great joy in the courtyard of the House of G-d in Jerusalem. Also, on Sukkot we united together the four species which symbolize how all of types of people among the nation of Israel come together.

At the end of the Sukkot, the time of the "test of life" arrives; to see whether the unity to which we climbed over the Sukkot holiday left an impression in our hearts or whether it disappeared immediately at the end of the holiday.

The biggest test is the test of the request for rain. Can we wait and wait to request rain, even though it is such an important need, so that the same Jew we celebrated with in Jerusalem a few days ago can return home safely? The ability of man to return to his field which is desperate for rain immediately after Sukkot, and to delay in requesting the rains until the last of the travelers arrives at his home, shows that we have indeed absorbed and internalized the values​​of unity that the Sukkot holiday has taught us.

Nowadays, when unity is so essential to our existence, we learn from the delay of the request for rain that true unity is the ability to feel for others and to sacrifice ourselves for them. And thanks to the unity within us, we will soon merit "on that day there will be one G-d and one name (for all of us together)."

Rabbi Shlomo Sobol is the head of the Barkai organization and the rabbi of the Shaarei Yonah Menachem community in Modi'in.



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