Praying for rain
Praying for rainIsrael news photo: Kuvien

In light of the fire in the Carmel, the ongoing drought, and possibly upcoming heavy rains and flooding in the north, Arutz-7’s Benny Tucker asked the Chief Rabbi of Tzfat what a believing Jew is supposed to think.

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu’s answer: 

“Every Jew who recites the Kriat Shma every day knows that the Land of Israel, unlike other countries, lives according to its rainfall. This is simply G-d’s way of speaking to us; this is His language. 

"If we experience a drought for two months, G-d is saying something, as we read in Kriat Shma: “If you hearken to My commandments… and love G-d… I will give you rainfall… But if you stray… I will be angered… and there will not be rain…” But if we perhaps don’t get the hint, then we get the great fire in the Carmel, which is very reminiscent of Elijah the Prophet who challenged the idol-worshipers in the same area; there, too, there was a drought, followed by a large fire and then – rains of blessing.

“There, the story was quite clear, as Elijah told them straight out that they tried to dance at two weddings; they straddled the fence without deciding whether they truly believed in the false god Baal, or in G-d, the Creator of the world. In their private lives they conducted themselves according to Baal and Asherah, adopting foreign modes of behavior imported by Queen Jezebel and King Ahab, but at the same time they still believed in G-d. 

"This is very reminiscent of the Chanukah story, in which many of the Hellenized Jews retained their belief in G-d at the critical moments; they acted like Greeks on the outside because it was pleasant and ‘everyone is doing it,’ but inside they realized that it was nonsense – and when Mattathias called out, “Whoever is for G-d, come to me!”, many of them came.

“My feeling is that as a nation, we too must say that we are not straddling two fences, but that we truly feel our belief in G-d...

"I’m talking to the religious public too; when we read Kriat Shma, we must internalize what it says – that the key is not just fulfilling the commandments, but to do them with love of G-d, as is written: With all your hearts and all your souls. When we pray, or light Chanukah candles, or keep the Sabbath, we can either do it just by rote, or with love. We must imbue our children with love, and then the rains will come – and if not, not.  

“To say that ‘the lack of rain does not speak to me,’ as I have heard some people saying, means that they are not fulfilling properly the commandment of reciting Kriat Shma, which must be done with forethought…”