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Praying for rain at the polls

This election day, I'm learning from the talmudic sages' prayer for Israel's rainy season to vote past sectors and keep all of Israel in mind
Image by Cristian Prisecariu from Pixabay

Today, on the seventh of Heshvan 2022, I will hold a piece of paper in my hands, and on my tongue — a prayer.

The piece of paper represents a particular party in this particular moment.

The prayer represent the choice to think beyond the needs of particular groups.

“God,” I will say, “bestow dew and rain for blessing upon the face of the earth.” It will be the first time I’ll say these words this year, even though the rainy season already started here in Israel, and we already transitioned from acknowledging God as the source of mere dew to praising him as the “Causer of the wind to blow and of the rain to fall” two weeks ago, on Shemini Atzeret.

Those two weeks represent the ancient rabbis’ choice to be considerate towards the pilgrims who came to Jerusalem for Sukkot, and were thus exposed to the elements on their way home.

Today’s transition represents the fact that such consideration cannot overrule everyone else’s needs indefinitely. God will not heed the prayers of travelers, the rabbis teach us, meaning that a traveler’s natural craving for fair weather does not trump humanity’s greater need for rain. Whatever needs smaller groups or sectors have at particular moments, we pray for rain from the seventh of Heshvan and onwards through the rainy season, because everyone — the nation, humanity — needs food and water to survive.

And so today, I’ll pray, and think about the meaning of the prayer, the weight of everyone’s need for life, the imperative to let it shape the words upon my tongue.

And then I’ll carry these thoughts with me into the voting station, and pick that tiny-yet-so-weighty piece of paper, and hope that similar goals shape my choice.

God, Causer of the wind to blow and of the rain to fall, help me be worthy of this opportunity to shape my country, and of the universal spirit of this date. Help me follow in the rabbis’ footsteps, and think past sectors. Help me choose today with all of Israel in mind.

About the Author
Rachel is a Jerusalem-born writer and speaker who's in love with her city's vibrant human scene. She writes about Judaism, parenting and life in Israel for the Times of Israel and Kveller, and explores storytelling in the bible as a teacher and on 929.
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