29th of Tishri, 5771
As we explained yesterday, after Sukkot we begin to recite mashib haruach umorid hageshem,praising God Almighty and acknowledging Him as the source of our material resources. Although we mention ‘rain’, we mean that God is the ultimate source of all our natural resources and of the entire economy of our planet.
The prayer in which we request rain is called ‘barekh alenu..or .veten tal umatar librakha’- “And
grant dew and rain as a blessing”. And it’s the 9th berakha of the Amida.
In Israel we say this blessing from the 7th of Cheshvan, two weeks after Sukkot ends.
Why don’t we ask for rain immediately afterSukkot ends, when the rain season actually begins?
In Biblical and Bet Hamikdash (Temple) times, it would take up to two weeks for the ole regalim-the Jews who came from every corner of Israel to Yerushalaim to celebrate Sukkot in the Bet haMikdash- to return home. Rain will obviously make it very difficult for them to travel in those days. Jews believed in their own prayers, and therefore they delayed the request
for rain until everyone got home safely.
In the Diaspora, however, specifically in Babylonia, rain was not required that early. So the Rabbis differentiated between Israel and the diaspora and established that, though they should begin the praise haShem concerning rain after Sukkot, the prayer requesting rain in the diaspora should begin sixty days after the autumn equinox(Tekufa).
This date is calculated according to the solar calendar. That is why we have to refer to ‘December’ rather than to a Hebrew date when it comes to the recitation of this berakha.
On a regular year, with a 28 days February, the sixtieth day after the autumn equinox is December 4th.
Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC 130 Steamboat Rd. Great Neck NY 11024