Your Brother’s Comfort is Your Own

October 22, 2015 at 9:26 AM , , ,

“…On the third of Mar-Cheshvan, we begin the prayers requesting rain. r’ Gamliel says: on the seventh of the month—fifteen days after the festival of Sukkos—in order that the last jew might have reached the river euphrates…” –  (Mishna, Taanis 1:3)

בשלושה במרחשוון שואלים את הגשמים. רבן גמליאל אומר, בשבעה בו; חמישה עשר יום אחר החג, כדי שיגיע האחרון שבישראל לנהר פרת. – משנה, תענית א: ג

The rainy season in the Land of Israel should ideally begin immediately after Sukkos (see Shulchan Aruch Harav 117:1). Yet, we wait fifteen days after Sukkos before beginning to pray for rain. By doing so, we allow the last of the Sukkos pilgrims to Jerusalem to arrive home without the discomfort of being caught in the rain.

Now, delaying the prayers for rain, which the staples of human and animal sustenance depend upon,is a tremendous sacrifice for the people living in the Land of Israel. In fact, it raises some halachic issues as well.

Prayer is a mitzvah. We are commanded in the Torah to petition G-d for all our needs. So if we need rain already, how can we not be asking for it? Moreover, the Torah prohibits us from intentionally inflicting pain upon ourselves. How can we knowingly inflict ourselves with the pain of a delayed crop caused by a late start of the rainy season?

rain

From here we see, however, the extent to which the Jewish people are beloved to one another. For you are only obligated to pray for that which you feel is a necessity. Likewise, the prohibition of inflicting pain does not apply in instances where the pain is soothing. (For example, fasts that one accepts upon himself to assist in his teshuvah, repentance, are not regarded as self-inflicted harm, since refraining from food or drink in that instance is beneficial, not harmful.) The delay of the prayer for rain thus indicates that due the discomfort that another Jew might suffer due to the rain, all other members of the Jewish community feel that rain before the seventh of Cheshvan is not a need or benefit but a source of displeasure!

The Jewish people’s love for one another is so great that the community not only overlooks the need for rain in order to protect individuals from discomfort; they feel no desire or need for rain at all!

—Toras Menachem 5746, vol. 1, pp. 506-510

 

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