In Ta’anis 9B there is a dispute between Rebbe Yehoshua and Rebbe Eliezer concerning
the primary source of our rain. Rebbe Yehoshua holds that the clouds (condensed
water vapor) ascend to the sky, and then, as clouds, receive the original upper
(as per Bereishis 1: 6,7) within them, and they proceed to “sprinkle”
those waters onto the earth. Rebbe Eliezer holds what is probably more familiar
to us, which is that rain is the ocean waters (lower waters) which evaporate,
ascend as vapor, undergo a certain transformation in the heavens to allow for their
use as usable, potable, water, and then descend as rain.

If we study this dispute for a few moments, we will be able perhaps to understand
why the Gemara in Ta’anis speaks of rain in such reverential terms. Scattered throughout
daf 7A through 9B in Ta’anis are the following statements: “A day of
rain is as momentous as the day on which the Torah was given…More momentous
than the day the Torah was given…A day of rain is greater than the day of the
resurrection of the dead…as momentous as the day on which Heaven and Earth were
created…On a day of rain, even salvation (apparently not associated with rain)
proliferates and grows…Rain does not fall unless Israel’s sins have been forgiven…
Rain falls for the sake of those who are trustworthy in business…As momentous
as the day of the ingathering of exiles…”and, conversely, the lack of it is considered
to have some major cosmic significance…”Rain is withheld only if there is a dire
gezeirah against the Jewish people…because the giving of tithes were
neglected…because of spoken lashon hara…because of brazen people…
because of bitul Torah…because of the sin of theft…because the
deeds of the generation are degenerate…”

The lesson all these statements are imparting to us is that we need a special
merit, some special consideration, for it to rain, for it is indicative and representative
of something notable and exceptional; and the lack of it speaks of Hashem’s extreme

This goes way betyond the obvious need for physical rain. Realize that both according
to Rebbe Yehoshua and Rebbe Eliezer, rain is reuniting, to a degree, the upper and
lower waters which were separated on the second day of Creation, when the lower
waters then complained bitterly at their being distanced from Hashem. The Maharal
explains that water has no essential tzurah, no essential form, which denotes
purpose. Rather, it is chomer, and takes on the form of whatever vessel
it is put into. Thus, in the upper spheres, mayim elyonim is Torah — the
purified, distilled, will of Hashem, bonded intimately with Him. Hashem then split
off the lower waters, which, when used improperly, are chomer incarnate,
as indeed it is so described in Kabbalistic sources. What we need to do is reunite
the lower waters with the upper ones — acknowledgement there is only one Source
for all existence, and all is but a manifestation of His will.

What accomplishes that? What helps the world reach its ultimate goal
by taking chomer and proclaiming its bond with Hashem? RAIN!
Rain is chessed Hashem, rain represents the hashpa’ah from Heaven
onto earth, rain expresses and exemplifies how Hashem — literally— showers us with
his beneficience, and it is but our acknowledgement which stands in the way of thus
reuniting this world with the upper world, the world of malachim and Heavenly
spheres. Yes, Hashem created the means of reuniting the lower world with the upper
world — through rain. Thus, we see that both Tannaim agree that this is
what is involved in the rain process: a connection between the waters separated
at Creation. (And this reuniting is actually considered a bonding of the highest
order. The Gemara says [Ta’anis 6B], “Rain penetrates the ground as the soil’s husband
[the same Hebrew verb, revi’ah, is used to describe both]. As we see in
Yesahaya 55:10, the words used are, “And the falling rain makes the ground
give birth, and produce vegetation…
A sky which clouds over and produces no rain
is compared to a woman in labor who does not give birth…Hashem is po’ked
(remembers) righteous women (And Hashem remembered [pakad] Sarah…And
it says, You remembered the earth [pakadeta aretz]) and watered it).”

We prepare for this momentous opportunity to acknowledge Hashem (and not that
cold front coming in off the Gulf of Mexico colliding with the warm front of El
Nino) on Sukkos, with nissuch hamayim, the water libation. This is the
powerful catalyst for rain (see Rosh Hashanah 16A): “Hashem says, pour the water
libation onto my Altar on Sukkos, so as to ensure a blessed water supply in the
coming winter.” And, having seen the Rashi in Vayikra cited last week (now you have
to go look it up. I told you not to throw out last week’s Chadash!) that
the water libation was Hashem’s answer to the lower waters, that you, chomer
epitomized, can and will be brought on the Altar of G-d, meaning subsuming
the lower waters to be seen as the handiwork of Hashem, as rain, which is the reuniting
of elyonim and tachtonim, as acknowledged by us as a Heaven-sent

And so nissuch hamayim on Sukkos (offering our personal lower waters
onto the Altar of Hashem) brings the blessing of rain (Hashem’s chessed
and hashpa’ah onto this world, as acknowledged by us) which itself carries
in it the reuniting of Creation’s upper and lower waters, as per Rebbe Yehoshua
or Rebbe Eliezer — and thus has the potential to embody the greatest of days, whether
it be the resurrection of the dead, the creation of Heaven and Earth, or the giving
of Torah — for this is the goal of Creation: reuniting these two entities to
spiritual growth.