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Right on Target

By: Mrs. Rina Zinkin

The ideas from this Dvar Torah are taken from “Shmoneh Esrei” by Rav Zev Leff shlit”a 

A few weeks ago, on Shmini Atzeret, we began to insert “Mashiv Haruach U’morid Hageshem” in the second berachah of Shmoneh Esrei. This statement declares the strength inherent in Hashem providing rain. Why do we praise Hashem for giving us rain in the berachah of Gevurot/ Strength?  The answer is because the greatest manifestation of Hashem’s power and strength is related to in the rain process.

We preface the words “geshem” and “ruach” with the letter “hey”, a definite article, “Mashiv Haruach u’morid Hageshem.”  This is to emphasize that Hashem brings the winds and the rain that will have the desired results- because not all winds bring rain, and not all rain is beneficial.

The Midrash in Bereishit Rabbah 13, teaches that there are three things that are equal to one another and are dependent on each other: eretz (land), adam (man), and mattar (rain). Each of these has an alternate name. “Eretz” is also called “adamah”, “adam” is also called “ish,”and “mattar” is also called “geshem.” “Adamah” represents earth in its state of raw potential, while “eretz” is the cultivated earth with its potential realized. This may be why we make the berachah “Borei Pri Haadamaon vegetables that are produced by the earth and eaten in their raw state, and we make the berachah “hamotzi lechem min haaretzon bread which is made with wheat that has been ground and refined.  Similarly, “adam” is man in his raw potential state, while “ish” represents man as the master of himself and his surroundings, with his potential realized. Likewise “geshem” is rain in its state of potential formation in the clouds where it materializes, but “mattar” signifies a matarah, a goal and target - the rain that reaches its appointed target on the earth to realize its potential purpose.

The Aruch Hashulchan points out that when we mention the strength of rain in the second berachah, we refer to it as “geshem,” in “Mashiv haruach umorid hageshem.” Yet, when we ask for rain in the ninth berachah of Shemoneh Esrei, we use the word “mattar” and say,” V’tain tal u’mattar livracha.” The strength of rain, referred to as “geshem” is manifest through its materialization and when it is falling. But when davening for rain, referred to as “mattar,” we are asking for the beneficial result of the rain-when it reaches the right place, at the right time, and in the right way.  It is rain that reaches its targeted goal.

We must develop and transform the “adamah” into “eretz,” and ourselves from “adam” to “ish.” But to be sure that we don’t get carried away and think that we are masters over ourselves and the world, Hashem established that the medium to make this transformation is rain.  Rain can only be sent by Hashem; rain is unpredictable and impossible to produce. Rain reminds us that we are powerless to cultivate the land and helpless to sustain ourselves unless Hashem provides life-giving rain. As humans we are given great strengths and abilities to use to try to perfect ourselves and the world. Rain reminds us that it is Hashem who has blessed us with everything we have.

This week, in Eretz Yisrael, we began to beseech Hashem for rain (“vtain tal u’mattar livracha”). May our tefillot be answered l’tova and may Eretz Yisrael be blessed with the rain it needs. As Hashem showers us with gishmei bracha, may we appreciate it and be zoche to internalize the deep and beautiful lessons that can be learned from the rain!

Shabbat  Shalom









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