Let It Rain!
Updated: Aug 17, 2022
Parshat Eikev contains the warning that if the Hebrews do not obey the commandments, the skies will close above them and rain will not fall to nourish the crops and destruction will follow. These P'sukim make up some of the second paragraph of the Shema, which we read a number of times each day.
Personally, this has always been a very difficult passage for me and I suspect that this discomfort radiates outward to many who pray. It is difficult to be told, and frankly, terrifying, that our behavior can determine whether or not the rains will fall, but in 2022, perhaps there is more truth to this statement than is comfortable.
Outside my window in Greater Boston this summer and in a great deal of this country, in fact around the world, there are droughts of varying degrees of severity. Last year I studied as part of Daf Yomi, the Masechet of Ta'anit (fasts) which spoke about what a Jewish community can do when it does not rain. We always begin with prayer, so here is a prayer for rain, nourishing rain.
Ribono Shel Ha'olam,
Let it rain!
As we look to the skies
and see only blue,
let the clouds move in,
gray and heavy.
Let the winds shift to the east,
Let the leaves of the trees
turn upward in supplication.
Let the animals sniff the air,
Let the birds seek shelter,
Let the insects burrow,
Let the butterflies hide.
Ribbono Shel Olam,
May it rain!
God above, listen to the sound of dry winds,
of fires that rage,
the rattle of dry crops,
the moan of the cattle,
and babes who cry out in thirst.
Hear their cries as You heard the voice Hagar so long ago.
as you heard the voices of your people in the desert.
And if it is not our voices You hear,
then listen to The Land
Its cries of thirst echoe.
Unlock the doors of the sky
May rain fall upon parched earth.
Send down drizzle
sprinkles and mist to the earth below.
Let it rain.
And may all stand in their yards,
in their fields and on the streets
and feel the water upon them,
first gently and then a steady stream.
May it drench the ground
and provide drink for thirsty roots.
May it bring water for cattle,
for insects, for birds
and may it fill the waterways and reservoirs.
God of the lands and the Tehom so deep,
may we always remember the blessings that rain brings
and recognize its awesome powers.
May we respect it always
and we plead
לִבְרָכָה וְלא לִקְלָלָה.
"For blessing and not for curse.
לְחַיִּים וְלא לַמָּוֶת.
For life and not for death.
*לְשובַע וְלא לְרָזון.
For plenty and not for scarcity."
Let it rain!
If, then, you obey the commandments that I enjoin upon you this day, loving your God יהוה and serving [God] with all your heart and soul,
Take care not to be lured away to serve other gods and bow to them.
For יהוה’s anger will flare up against you, shutting up the skies so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its produce; and you will soon perish from the good land that יהוה is assigning to you. Deuteronomy 11:13-17
Link to a prayer for rain recited on Shemini Atzeret*
Link to my project on Masechet Ta'anit- the Talmudic volume of fasts, which speaks about what a community can do when it does not rain.
Last year's post on Parshat Eikev