Praying for Rain
Rain is a blessing. Our tradition suggests that when we give thanks for rain, we appreciate each and every drop as a blessing. What a beautiful reminder of the importance of appreciating even the littlest things- every blessing, large and small. What is an underappreciated blessing in your life right now? Our ancestors lived in the desert, as do we. We deeply understand rejoicing over the rain. I don’t know about your house, but in my house rain is an event. If at all possible, everything else comes to a halt so that we can enjoy the rare spectacle of rainfall. Rain in Arizona is so rare, that my granddaughter Helena was around 2 years old when she became conscious of rain for the first time. She had no idea what was happening. I remember her pointing to the sky, inquisitively, “Sprinklers?”
The Talmud teaches us that (Taanit 8b), “The day when rain falls is as great as the day on which heaven and earth were created.” Today is the day when we began to add prayers for rain to our Amidah. Rain is welcome in Phoenix any time, yet, it also makes sense to not actively pray for it until after Sukkot, thereby enhancing the potential enjoyment of our Sukkah. But now, the holidays are ending and we invite the rain- mashiv ha-ruach- God makes the wind blow, u’moreed ha-gashem, and brings down the rain. May it be so.
Sarah Chandler, who is the Director of Earth Based Spiritual Practice at Hazon’s Adamah Farm, finds it curious that we have prayers for rain and not for sunshine. And, that there are no prayers for NO rain. In fact, she notes, that, “our tradition has a prayer that pre-emptively annuls any prayers against rain. In the Yom Kippur Avodah service, (which most communities no longer include), the following prayer of the high priest is recited: ‘When the world is in need of rain, do not permit the prayers of the travelers with regard to rain to gain entrance before You’.” My mom is coming to visit tomorrow. You know that SHE is certainly praying for no rain in Phoenix.
Chandler suggest that, knowing in advance that our prayers for no rain will be ignored, we can let go and find ways to enjoy the rain as a blessing and not a curse. And, of course, the rain is a metaphor for our own lives. Rabbi Steven Leder puts it this way, “Serving God and humanity guarantees meaning and purpose, not the lack of sorrow. No matter how good we are, sooner or later rain comes to our sukkah.”
As we join in prayers for rain at this holy season, we pray that the rain that comes to us both physically and spiritually will be, “For blessing and not for curse. Let’s read together Alden Solovy’s beautiful prayer “For Rain.”
For Rain by Alden Solovy
Source of life and blessings,
The rains come in their season
To feed the land, the crops, the gardens.
The earth abundant, food plentiful, gardens lush.
Sweet, clean water, feeding rivers, filling the sea.
Sometimes too much,
Sometimes too little,
Sometimes not at all.
Fountain of blessing,
Remember us with life,
With prosperity and bounty.
Remember us with the gift of rain,
The gifts of earth and sky,
Blessings upon the land,
Each in its time,
Each in its season,
Each in its proper measure.
 Chandler, Sarah, “Shemini Atzeret: Geshem Be’ito,” Good Noticing, Zena Schulman, editor, Institute for Jewish Spirituality, 2014, p. 141
 Leder, Rabbi Steven, The Extraordinary Nature of Ordinary Things, NY: Behrman House, 1999, p. 52