Sunday, June 7, 2020 -
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Rain, floodgates and G-d

It seems that just as we began reciting the “Mashiv ha-ruach u’morid ha-gashem” prayer, the declaration of G-d’ power over the wind and rain, that it did indeed begin raining in Jerusalem. I came to bid farewell to the Kotel, a last goodbye as my trip to Israel ends.

I just love the glow of the late afternoon amber light that plays off the ancient creamy and tan hued stones. But in the rain, especially in the gentle rain, the wet sheen of it all across the open plaza and the Wall itself — it is all truly calming and golden.

As a consequence of the rain, less people are around and there is a spacious, magical aura.

What I love about this four word prayer is its double entendre. “Mashiv ha-ruach” is literally, the One Who causes the wind to blow. But mashiv ha-ruach can also mean, the One Who restores one’s spirit, the One Who calms the spirit. Quite the opposite meaning of the first  and literal vision — a wild wind blowing and whistling and moving.

As I was praying at the Wall I couldn’t help but overhear some kind of speech coming over a microphone to a group meeting at the Wall’s plaza. The speaker kept talking about Noah and his ark, since it is this week’s Torah portion. Hmmm. I never thought of that obvious chronology. We pray for wind and rain and shortly after we read about Noah and the flood.

It made me ask myself about the rain and about floods and arks.

When the floodgates in your life open unexpectedly — how do you cope with the rain in your life? How do you choose to set sail on this unknown, unexpected current that is taking you in a new direction? How do you protect yourself? How do you choose to leave the ark of protection you may have built for yourself, in order to survive  a strong or tough current? What are your first tentative steps? How do you wait it out, or live your life, until the waters subside?

There are always unforseen obstacles and conflicts we come to face and will need to face –– how can we be ready for them? What ark keeps us safe in the rainy season of our life?

As I was leaving the Kotel a perfect arc of shining colors spread across the sky. I felt like I was walking in a water color painting — with everything all around me blurred enough to still see clearly, yet holding a dreamy quality to it. By now it was night time. Dark, with twinkling lights.

I reached for my umbrella — that romantic and charming rain accessory that recalls the vision of walking in two’s of people huddled together, protected from the wet rain. Sometimes just knowing you are not alone in the rain is enough. Knowing someone is there to share it with you and hold the umbrella up, the protection, when you need it.

The truth is, though, I love being touched by the rain. I enjoy the contact, feeling a bit wet and moist from this fountain from the sky. There is much to be said for walking in the rain. And I feel a real sense of pleasure at reciting the blessings of nature — the blessings over the rippling thunder and flashing lightening.

Some say that raindrops are tears of G-d weeping. I like to focus on them as a time when the Heavens are breaking open. Rain: a time, a possibility for openings.

Tehilla R. Goldberg

IJN columnist | View from Central Park

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