While my wife was out for a run yesterday morning, it started to rain. I was concerned that she would return frustrated and dispirited. When she got back to the house, she informed me that I had no reason to worry. She informed me that she had found the rain refreshing. Friends often ask me how I have the will to run in the rain. Truth is, I find it much harder to run in the heat than in the rain. I still recall the first time I ran in the rain and how good it felt afterwards.
This week, however rain has another effect on me. We are in the midst of Succos (or Succot or the Festival of Booths). During this time, Jews leave their homes and dwell in Succas (temporary huts). This helps remind us that this world, with its physicality, is temporary, and thus, should not be the main focus of our existence.That is the goal at least. Although I have slept in a succa in the past, I find it hard to do so these days for various reasons. Practically, it works out that the main activity done in a succa is eating. During the first few days, when the family eats together, it is quite enjoyable. By midweek, the excitement starts to fade, for me at least. I find myself less than enthused about schlepping all my food outside. Which brings me back to the rain. If it is raining, one is exempt from the succa. I would love to be on the level where I would be disappointed to lose out on a chance to fulfill one of G-d's commandments, particularly one give on the holiday that is supposed to generate happiness. I am not. I welcome the chance to eat in my usual surroundings.
The rabbis of the Talmud saw rain at this time as a bad thing, a form of divine rejection. Thus, rain is not mentioned in prayers until the end of the the holiday. Furthermore, they waited two weeks after that to start asking for rain, to give the travellers to Jerusalem time to return to their homes in comfort. The day that prayer begins is the day that my firstborn son was born 14 years ago. Thus, despite my inability to fully appreciate the need for rain, this prayer has a fond association to me.
May this be a year where G-d literally and figuratively rains blessing down upon us in clear and obvious ways.