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Haazinu 5783 ~ Oct. 7, 2022

We are now  in the period of time between Yom Kippur and Sukkot.  During this time individuals would make their way to Jerusalem for the festival of Sukkot. According to the Talmud,  on Yom Kippur as the Kohen Hagadol, the High Priest, would leave the kodesh hakodashim, the Holy of Holies,  he would offer a prayer.  Included in his prayer would be his request that God bless the people personally and communally, physically and spiritually, with a year of delicious fruits and a year of atonement. The High Priests’ prayer included one curious line: Do not be swayed by the prayer of the travelers.

The issue was a simple one: Travelers on the road, going and returning home from their pilgrimage, wanted to get home safely before the onset of rain. Rain would make their travel difficult and unpleasant, but the farmers around Jerusalem needed the rain to have successful crops. Without crops the entire nation would face famine.

And this is what makes the prayer interesting. It appears that the High Priest himself, on the holiest day of the year, was taking sides offering a fervent prayer that the other side’s prayers not be answered! Don’t listen to the traveler’s prayers, the High Priest pleads with God. He – the traveler – doesn’t know what is truly best for the people!

The rabbis actually came up with an ingenious reality on prayer: in Israel the prayer for rain in the Amidah prayer begins fifteen days  later than outside of the land of Israel.  While we who live outside of Israel will begin to recite the blessing in the Shemoneh Esreh weekday Amidah immediately following the festivals of Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret, in Israel the request for rain in our prayers does not begin until the seventh of the month of Chesvhan.  The change was instituted to give enough time for the pilgrims who traveled to Jerusalem for the festival sufficient time to make it home before the rainy season. For those who are in Israel, the prayer for rain within the Amidah will coincide with the reading of Noah and the flood. In a similar manner, we wait to recite the prayer for rain until after the Festival of Sukkot so that we are able to fulfill the mitzvah of dwelling in our Sukkah.

I hope that you will consider joining us both for Shabbat services this week as well as Sukkot morning services at Temple Israel, Park St. on Monday, October 10 at 10 a.m. It is always wonderful to see, smell and bench etrog and lulav, and we look forward to those who will be joining us in our home Sukkah on erev Sukkot.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sa’meach.

Rabbi K

Sat, April 1 2023 10 Nisan 5783