The rain prayer of Shemini Atzeret seems more relevant than ever.
What are we to say when a lone gunman at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino took aim at a crowd of 22,000 people at a country music festival, killing at last count 59 and injuring more than 520 others, in the largest mass shooting in USA history?!
And this, following the devastation wreaked by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, pummeling Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Islands
And all this is happening in the High Holiday season – spanning the days as move from Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur into Sukkot…
Following the devastation wreaked by the natural winds and rains of Harvey, Irma and Maria, and the ones rained upon innocent lives by a maniac gunman in Las Vegas, what more prescient words are appropriate today than the ones we will be uttering in the upcoming geshem prayer for rain:
For a blessing and not for a curse.
For life and not for death.
For plenty and not for scarcity.
As a new year is born and new spiritual forces blow into existence, it’s no wonder that we’re in need of a special prayer to ensure that these winds are harnessed for blessing only.
We are meant to learn from everything we see and hear. What lessons does this prayer teach us? One lesson can be derived from events that took place 40 years ago today, when the Rebbe suffered a massive heart attack, which ended up serving as a springboard for unprecedented growth.
When faced with foreboding clouds and threatening winds, we turn them into nurturing and nourishing rain.
Because we were created to be rainmakers.