Rain, Rain, Don’t Stay Away, It Is For You That We All Pray, Part One

Rain, rain, rain. We are now turning our attention to it, praying for it, hoping for it, anticipating it, longing for it, and eagerly awaiting it. All over the world, and especially here in Eretz Yisroel, the need for rain is basic and essential. It is true that we do not feel it in a modernized society as much as we did in the past, since we do not see dwindling water supplies in our backyard as people still did just a few decades ago here, and still do in many parts of the world; but of course the indispensibility of rain is ever-present — for life, for agriculture, and, in fact, for any one of so many basic needs. Eretz Yisroel is blessed with an abundance of streams and brooks, creeks and rivulets. “For Hashem your Lord is bringing you to a good Land — a Land with flowing streams, and underground springs and subterranean waters, gushing out in valleys and mountains. (Devarim 8:7)

 Of course, this then leads us to being confronted with the reality that, “But the land which you are crossing to occupy is a Land of mountains and valleys, which can be irrigated only by rain; it is therefore a Land constantly under Hashem, your Lord’s, scrutiny; the eyes of Hashem, your L-rd are upon it at all times, from the beginning of the year until the end of the year.” (Devarim 11:11) Unfortunately, the “blessing” of modern plumbing and water-storage-and -dispensation, which in Eretz Yisroel today is under the auspices of Mekoros — the national water company, who has gone and dried up many of the above-mentioned streams and water sources in the interests of creating a water-infrastructure which carries water to your kitchen sink and bathroom, as well as to just about everyone else’s — has created a distance between our Creator and ourselves, as most of us now do not directly experience Hashem’s giving us water. But let a winter or two or three go by with insufficient rainfall, and we are hit with the reality of our dependence, adding a special prayer in Shemoneh Esrei, perhaps fasting..  as the government scurries about, warning ominously of red lines, and of course raising the price we pay for water, and hatching brilliant schemes such as importing icebergs (no, not lettuce — real, live, icebergs) from our good friend, Turkey (I kid you not — people either don’t know, or have short -term memory issues.)

 It is a fact that many of the rituals of Sukkos which we just celebrated have to do with beseeching Hashem to make the coming rainy season an abundant one. Chazal teach in Maseches Ta’anis, as well as in Maseches Sukah, that the four minim that we take and wave have an unusual dependence upon rain, reflecting ours, and thus constituting an implicit prayer for precipitation. The aravah we take on Hoshana Rabbah and the many many hoshanos which we say then are all about rain and imploring Hashem to send it. Of course we all remember how in the middle of the joy and gaiety of Simchas Torah we stopped, and solemnly, in a Yomim Nora’im niggun, no less, pleaded for rain in Tefillas Geshem.

 And how many people are aware that the festivities and liveliness which we all enjoyed at the many Simchas Beis Hasho’evahs which we attended are commemorative, according to most Rishonim, of the nisuch hamayim ceremony on Sukkos in the Bais Hamikdash (this consisted of pouring not only wine, but also water, into the cavities in the mizbe’ach made for this purpose, while bringing the daily Tamid morning korban), itself an avodah meant to be an insinuated prayer for rain (see Rosh Hashana 16A )?

Let us now take a deeper look at this “pouring-of-the-water” ceremony. Rashi (Vayikra 2:13) tells us of a Midrash which describes the dismay  of the”lower waters” when the separation between the upper waters and the lower waters happened on the second day of Creation. (If that sounds vaguely familiar, we leined it in last week’s portion, B’reishis.) “Why have we now become distant from Hashem (the upper waters remained part of the heavenly spheres, while the lower waters became part of this world’s earthiness)?” Hashem then promised them that they would “return” to Him. When? How? When nisuch hamayim is performed, when the lower waters are poured ( i.e, offered ) on Hashem’s Holy Altar in the Bais Hamikdash.

 This can be understood in the following manner: Our understanding of rain is that there is something called a “water cycle,” where the water in the world is basically finite, and keeps going around and around. Let’s start with evaporation (the sun heats up water in rivers or lakes or the ocean and turns it into vapor or steam. The water vapor or steam leaves the river, lake or ocean and goes into the air.) Then there is condensation (water vapor in the air gets cold and changes back into liquid, forming clouds) Next comes precipitation (so much water has condensed that the air cannot hold it anymore; he clouds get heavy and water falls back to the earth in the form of rain, hail, sleet or snow). And finally, there is collection (when water falls back to earth as precipitation, it may fall back in the oceans, lakes or rivers or it may end up on land; when it ends up on land, it will either soak into the earth and become part of the “ground water” that plants and animals use to drink, or it may run over the soil and collect in the oceans, lakes or rivers, where the cycle starts all over again).

In Gemara Ta’anis (9B-10A), Rav Eliezer says that the source of the rain we have is indeed the oceans and seas. And the process of evaporation and cloud formation separates the salt from the water. And while Rav Yehoshua holds that rain originates from the original upper waters mentioned above, the Gemara explains there that even according to Rav Eliezer, our perspective on rain is also that it is a celestial, Heavenly gift, coming onto the earth from a more sublime, otherworldly place, as it acquires that quality when it becomes clouds.

To be continued…….

Parshas Noach Shabbos Bulletin and Tefilla Halachos

Bulletin Parshas Noach

It is forbidden to “shmooze” stam idle talk (to have a friendly conversation) in a Shul or Beis Medrash, even to catch up on news. Even if it is purposeful (but not necessarily a mitzvah).

See OC 151:1 with MB (especially s.k. # 2)

See also Be’er haGolah YD # 334, at the very end…(we don’t want to scare you, but that’s Hilchos Niduiy V’Cherem…)

This issur is even when it is NOT davening time-this is purely due to the kedushas mokom.

There is another issur to talk during davening .Sometimes it is objectively ossur to be mafsik (to interrupt) the davening (e.g, you are in the middle of pesukei d’zimrah)…This includes during chazzaras haShatz.

And sometimes it is because it is seen as a bizayon davening, and shows that your attitude to davening to HaShem is severely lacking. And this would hold true, even when davening at home, privately.

Many times people wonder why their Tefillos are seemingly not answered…h’mmmmmm…

See Taz 55:4, who uses very sharp words . If he’d be a Rav of a Kehillah, no question he’d be fired, forthwith.

If one is disturbing others —See RamBam Hilchos Teshuvah 4:1 (see number one there) .

One may greet another person, ask how he is, but then the “conversation” must cease. (This is true when dealing with the issur of the kedushas mokom. When the other issurim are involved, a shayloh must be asked.)

If a mitzvah is being discussed, generally it is muttar- again, ONLY when the issur is the kedushas mokom or the attitudinal one.

If the conversation (beyond the bare-bones greeting described above ) IS the mitzvah (cheering someone up ), as sometimes is the case, a shayloh must be asked. And again, this is ONLY when confronted with the issur of kedushas mokom, and the attitudinal one.

Rabbosaiy: Read this well, study some sources, so that you will know what is being dealt with.

Sukkos Bulletin

Sukkos & Parshas Bereishis Bulletin in PDF format

The right thing to do is to bentch licht in the Sukkah. It is wrong, however, to bentch licht in the Sukkah, and then to take the licht into the house.  If absolutely necessary, at least stay in the Sukkah for a few minutes with the licht, then, if you must leave and the licht would then be left alone, and you are afraid to do so, take it into the house,  and bring it back out for the seudah, when people go into the Sukkah. 

On Yom Tov (NOT on Shabbos), you can bentch licht later (when people are in the Sukkah), so it may be less of an issue.

If you CANNOT have the licht in the Sukkah, or if it is not practical to do so, you must bentch licht where you will at some point in time benefit from its light.

I highly recommend, in the above case where you CANNOT have the licht in the Sukkah, to include the electric light in the Sukkah in your licht bentching as if it’s another candle. This is TRICKY now, because on Yom Tov, many women make the beracha first, and then light. You CANNOT do that if the electric light is one of your candles.

So:

  1. Turn off the electric light in the Sukkah
  2. Light the candles (BEFORE the berachah, as if it were Shabbos)
  3. Turn on the Sukkah light, as your last candle (if you always light 2 candles, the electric light in the Sukkah is now your third, for example)
  4. THEN make the berachah.

Shabbos Bulletin & Davening Halachos for Yom HaKippurim

Shabbos & Yom Kippur Bulletin

Women should make sure not to say”shehecheyanu” twice (by licht bentching and by Shul)

(The best way to bentch licht today is to include the electric light in your ‘licht bentching’…turn it off…and then,when you ‘bentch licht’ ,  turn it back on as if it were another candle that you are lighting.The reason for this is too complex to explain in this forum-it was explained one evening in the 60-second dvar halachah slot) 

This was not clear to some people.

When do you turn on the light,having in mind that it is one of the lights of your licht bentching?

Whenever you would light another candle.

Let us say you light 2 candles, then make the berachah. You now are lighting 3 before the berachah, the third  being turning on the light.

Let us say you light 4 candles,then make the brachah. You now are lighting 5 before the berachah,the fifth being turning on the light.

Hopefully,this was illuminating

When davening maariv,one should have in mind to fulfill the mitzvah of being mekadesh Yom Kippur (Kiddush)..and, this year, kiddush Shabbos , as well!

If one forgets to conclude the berachah in Shemonah Essrai  with “mekadesh haShabbos ” , one must repeat the Shemonah Essrai.

Where Do You Live?

Some people have mentioned to me that, of late, my articles are rather “heavy.” My response to that is, “Baruch Hashem!” Were it otherwise, I would be guilty of violating a famous dictum in Gemara Rosh Hashanah, paraphrased here: “The books of life and death are open in front of Me, and you are writing articles?!” And so bear with me a bit longer, as Yom Hakippurim still looms quite large ahead of us, and we must prepare for the entire coming year.

One of the main things that Chazal obviously felt would aid us in our preparations for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Hakippurim is the recitation throughout Elul of Chapter 27 in Tehillim, “L’dovid, Hashem ori veyishi…” You might be familiar with Chazal interpreting ori as Rosh Hashanah, and yishi as Yom Hakippurim, but have you ever stopped and wondered why it is such a mainstay of our Elul davenings? How does this prepare us for the Yomim Nora’im? Is it just the very fact that we are saying it for a month before the awesome days referred to there? Is that all there is to it?

The Michtav Mi’eliyahu has a very sharp insight into life, which he shares with us in a piece entitled “The Mashal and the Nimshal” — The Parable (or Allegory) and the Lesson (or the Moral). He writes:

A parable is actually something wholly false; it is  fantasy and illusion. It is a story which never happened, and has no reality to it. The kernel of truth in a mashal is only the degree to which it helps the listener understand and relate to the nimshal, the lesson it represents. Yet, sadly, living in the mashal, and ignoring the nimshal is much more common than we would like to believe… A child builds castles or railroads or ships, and lives in that fantasy world as if it were real; when he gets older, he hopefully abandons those figments of imagination, yet he adopts others. Let us take for example a person who wants recognition from others [and who can say they do not?]; is there any greater fantasy than that? How is your actual worth dependent on what others think of you? If you are comfortable with yourself, why do you need others’ opinions? And if you are not, what good does it do you if others mistakingly think highly of you? That’s living in unreality, living in the mashal.

A person seeks wealth, pleasures, comfort… S/he is only imagining that that will bring them happiness and serenity… but reality and experience shows that that is not so… yet we continue to live in the mashal, to consort with illusions.

The adult lives like a child with toys — but more dangerously, as it is immeasurably harder to clarify to the adult that it is indeed merely fantasy…

Let us go deeper. Our physical lives, our sojourn in this corporeal world, the world itself that we see and experience, is all one big mashal — for this is not the true reality. Every believing Jew believes that this world is merely a preparation for the true reality that will exist in the future as our souls — the souls we are supposed to be working on to refine and elevate will be bonding and somehow becoming  part of the reality of Hashem; the degree to which this is so is the degree to which we will truly exist and be forever… in this world, what we busy ourselves with  is  nothing but a mashal, a life with no real lasting metzi’us, just a way of acquiring, through the mashal of this life, the nimshal of our true substance and existence.

Yes, we are playing Monopoly down here, yet we think it is real houses, real hotels, and a real Park Place, while it is as illusory and unreal as the board game.

If you ask people who have undergone travails in their life, and have grown in ruchnius through the experience, you will inevitably find that their perception of what is real, what is valuable, what matters, has taken on a whole new value system — their neshamos have been touched, they have broken free of the mashal, and have been zoche to experience the nimshal.

And, to a man, it is real, tangible, and the most pleasurable experience they have ever had. Despite (or due to?) the accompanying yissurim.

Don’t live in the mashal! Live with authenticity, truth, genuiness, reality!

Ramban writes (Devarim 6:13):

And you shall serve Him… that you should act towards Hashem like a servant who serves his master always, who makes his master’s work primary and his own needs secondary; this leads to what Chazal termed, “And let all your activities be for the sake of heaven” — meaning that even one’s physical needs should be done for the sake of serving Hashem: eating, sleeping, taking care of all physical needs as much as is required to serve Him. As Chazal state, “And behold, it was very good [the culmination of the bri’ah], this is referring to sleep. Is sleep a good thing? Why, a person is seemingly not accomplishing anything productive then! Yet, because a person sleeps, he awakes refreshed, and occupies himself with Torah [and Mitzvos]… and whenever he is engaged in attending to anything physical, he should keep in mind the possuk [note — we say this every day in our davening] (Tehillim 146:2) I shall praise Hashem while I live. [Ramban is apparently interpreting this to mean with my (physical) life]… I shall sing to my G-d while I exist [with my very (corporeal) existence]. And this is the correct interpretation of the meaning of the Divine Service the possuk speaks of.

And so, morai v’rabosai, and ladies, here we have the secret of how to seemingly live in the mashal — yet to actually be, consciously, thoughtfully and deliberately, in the nimshal.

“Achas sho’alti me’eis Hashem… shivti b’vais Hashem…” This possuk, recited twice a day throughout Elul, prepares us as perhaps no other possuk does or can for real life, true life, life in the nimshal as we walk in the mashal. Malbim explains that possuk as teaching that not only is the request my sheilah — a request, the motive of which might be life, wealth, nachas, comfort — but it is my bakashah, my ultimate goal, what I am lma’aseh searching for, my destination, my mission, and my objective: dwelling in the House of the Lor-d, as I am alive (kol y’mei chayai), as we have seen the understanding of the Ramban how that can be accomplished. Living the ratzon Hashem, the will of G-d, as we go through the day living our lives, with our ultimate goals being the only reality, the only nimshal.

And if you read this article, and someone askes you what it was about, and your answer is — oh, Rav Malinowitz wrote about a kid playing Monopoly and building boats — well, you are esconsed in mashal, have missed the nimshal, and must go back and re-read it!

A g’mar chasimah tova to all, gut yom tov, and a year of growth in avodas Hashem without the need for accompanying nisyonos.