Friday, June 17, 2011

A Blessing From Heaven

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
Matt. 5:45

In our culture where we have sayings like "Don't rain on my parade," generally rain is not looked upon as a blessing. I have heard this scripture used to support that thought. But we have it all wrong.

Here is an insight regarding this topic:

"Wow, has our reaction to rain changed over the centuries! Today, we wake up, look outside and say, "Oh, it's raining" and view the rain as "good" or "bad" depending on whether we plan to be outdoors or not. Rain has become just another facet of life. But it didn't always use to be this way.

Once upon a time, our ancestors viewed rain very differently. They would wake up, look outside and say, "Thank you, God, for your life-giving blessing of rain." They realized that rain was the key to their survival and to the survival of the world. They knew that too little rain or too much rain could destroy the crops that provided their food. Rain, in Jewish tradition, is far more than just a natural resource. It is considered nothing less than a magnificent blessing.

[Jewish rabbis] taught: The sending of rain is an event greater than the giving of the Torah. The Torah was a joy for Israel only, but rain gives joy to the whole world, including birds and animals, as it is said: You take care of the earth and irrigate it. (Psalm 65:10) .

Nor was rain viewed merely as a natural phenomenon determined by wind, air pressure, dew point or other meteorological conditions. Deuteronomy makes it clear that there is a direct relationship between the rains we receive and the life-choices we make. "And if you will carefully obey my commands which I give you today…I will give rains for your land at the right season…Beware lest your heart…turn and serve other gods and worship them, for then the Lord's anger will blaze against you, and He will shut up the skies so that there will be no rain." Deut. 11:13-17 condensed

The Jerusalem Talmud goes on to tell us that four specific actions can result in the lack of rain:

For four sins rain is withheld – idolatry, unchastity, bloodshed and because of those who promise publicly to give charity but do not.

And not only do we speak of rain in our daily prayers, we actually insert into our worship service, at the conclusion of Sukkot, a special prayer for rains to fall on the land of Israel.

Ultimately, Jewish tradition views rain as it views rainbows – a part of nature that directly represents God's "personal" involvement in Creation. Rainbows are a sign of God's pledge never again to destroy the world with water. Rainbows are created directly by God, just as rain is. Talmud Taanit 2 tells us, Three things are kept in God's hands and never delivered to an angel: one of them is the key to rain".

Rain in Jewish Tradition
Culled from
The Jewish Sourcebook on the Environment and Ecology
by Ronald H. Isaacs)

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