The rain, when it falls as when it does not, bears witness to the equality of all mankind, a concept expressed poignantly by the rabbis.

A philosopher asked R. Joshua b. Hananiah: At what times are all men equal, and when do the nations worship God?"
R. Joshua replied, "On the day when all rejoice."
"When is that?" said the other.
"When the rain comes down, and all rejoice and praise God."[1]

R. Tanhum b. Hiyya said: "The falling of the rain is greater than the giving of the Law, for the giving of the Law was a joy only to Israel, while the falling of the rain is a rejoicing for all the world, including the cattle and the wild beats and the birds."[2]

R. Hiyya bar Abba said: "Rain is as important as the resurrection of the dead. For the resurrection applies only to man, rain to both man and beast; the resurrection only to Israel, rain both to Israel and the other nations." [3]

A heathen once asked R. Joshua b. Karha, "You have festivals and we have festivals, but when you rejoice, we do not; and when we rejoice, you do not. When do we all rejoice?"
R. Joshua answered, "When it rains, as it says [in Psalms], 'The meadows are clothed with flocks; the valleys are covered with corn; they shout for you, yea, they sing.'[4]. And immediately after it says, 'Shout with joy before God, all the earth.'[5] It does not say 'Priest, Levites and Israelites' but 'shout for you, all the earth.'"[6]


[1] Midrash Psalms, on 117:1 [back]
[2] ibid. [back]
[3] Genesis Rabba, Bereishit 13:4-6 [back]
[4] Psalms 65:13 [back]
[5] Psalms 66:1 [back]
[6] Genesis Rabba, Bereishit 13:4-6 [back]


From A Rabbinic Anthology, ed. C.G. Montefiore & H. Loewe, Copyright © 1975 by Schocken Books, Inc.

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