Several esoteric sources connect rain with the Messiah, leading one prominent Kabbalist (mystic) in Israel to state that the recent downpours are a sure sign that the Messiah’s coming is imminent.
Judaism is deeply rooted in the land of Israel, and the prayer for rain and sustenance reflects that, beginning after Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) and ending after Pesach (Passover). It is unusual for rain to fall after Pesach and certainly not in the quantity seen in recent weeks. Rain is usually seen as a blessing in Israel. On Monday, a short but torrential rainfall fell in the north, sending much-needed water flowing into the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee).
But unseasonable rain can also be devastating. Less than two weeks ago, unseasonable rains caused flash flooding that killed ten students on a hike near the Dead Sea. The rain is currently on its way south and rains are expected in the center of Israel, much to the chagrin of Israelis who are used to basking in uninterrupted Mediterranean sun for most of the year.
But the unseasonable rains also bear a message most people are unaware of. At a recent gathering, Rabbi Dov Kook, a prominent Kabbalist (mystic) living in Tiberias who is a descendant of Israel’s first chief Rabbi, Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook, made a startling announcement at a recent gathering of his followers. Rabbi Kook announced that he had a vision of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a Jewish sage from the second century known by the acronym Rashbi and who, according to tradition, wrote the Zohar, the basis of Kabbala. In the vision, the Rashbi told Rabbi Kook that the current unseasonable rains are a sure sign that the Messiah’s arrival is imminent.
Rabbi Yekutiel Fish, known in Israel as the author of the Torah blog, “Sod Ha’Chashmal,” cited Rabbi Kook’s message and explained that it conforms to what is written in Rabbinic literature.
“Meditating on nature is always a way of learning about Hashem (God, literally ‘the name’). Different aspects of nature have different meanings. Rain is connected to geula (redemption),” Rabbi Fish told Breaking Israel News. “But rain out of season, especially when it is as powerful as we have seen in the last few weeks, it is an urgent message of geula that we need to relate to.”
Rabbi Fish cited the Pri Chayim (fruit of life), the teachings of Rabbi Isaac Luria, the preeminent 16th century Kabbalist known by the acronym ‘Ari’ (lion), as recorded by his student Rabbi Chayim Vital in Tsfat (Safed).
“It is written in the Pri Chayim that גֶּשֶׁם (rain) is an acronym for ‘גְּאֻלָּה שְׁלֵמָה מְהֵרָה’ (‘complete redemption quickly’),” Rabbi Fish said, quoting Rabbi Chaim Vital.
To further illustrate the connection between rain and the Messiah, Rabbi Fish cited an enigmatic section of the Talmud (Tractate Chulin 63a) which describes an undefined bird, alternatively identified as a sea crow or vulture named a Shrakrak (whistler). The Talmud states that when the Shrakrak sits on something and cries out its eponymous call, mercy comes to the world in the form of rain. But should this bird sit upon the ground and make its call, then the Messiah is about to come.
“There are many ways to understand this section of the Talmud, literally and figuratively” Rabbi Fish said. “But what is clear is that rain is an aspect of God’s mercy and as such, necessarily precedes the Moshiach (Messiah).”
Rabbi Avraham Arieh Trugman, director of the Ohr Chadash Torah Institute, noted that in his experience, these are the heaviest rains that have fallen in Israel so late in the year.
“We are waiting for the wheat harvest,” Rabbi Trugman told Breaking Israel News. “One of the major aspects of the counting of the Omer, the 49-day period between Pesach (Passover) and Shavuot (Feast of Weeks), in which Jews perform a mitzvah (Torah commandment) of counting towards the much anticipated wheat harvest.”
You shall count off seven weeks; start to count the seven weeks when the sickle is first put to the standing grain. Deuteronomy 16:9
“Rain at this time can thus be devastating for the harvest,” he noted. “There is a paradox regarding rain: Rain is a sign of rachamim (compassion), but it is termed gevurot geshamim, the severity or judgment of rain,” Rabbi Trugman explained. “The Sages say if it was not for the fact that rain was so needed people would pray that the rains should not fall, for in truth rain is very inconvenient. Israel is one of the few places that everyone is happy when it rains.”
Rabbi Trugman compared this paradoxical aspect of rain to the Messiah.
“Moshiach in this aspect is similar to rain as the final redemption may entail further wars and difficult times,” Rabbi Trugman said. “Moshiach, as our prophets predicted, may be a very traumatic time for mankind, though it is not inevitable and all depends on the actions of man. These last hundred years have seen some unprecedented horrors and this was all part of the redemptive process leading to Moshiach.”
Rabbi Trugman included a disclaimer with his message, referring to the tragedy in which ten young Israelis were killed.
“People should be very careful assigning absolute meaning to events,” he said. “Of course, everything happens for a reason and contains signs from God that are messages, even nature. But we shouldn’t try to assign absolute reasons for calamities. Rather, we should take them as a wake up call to do tshuvah (repentance) and reach out to God.”
“In the bigger picture, it is clear that we are living in an age that is very close to Moshiach,” Rabbi Trugman concluded. “All the prophesied signs are appearing: the in-gathering of the exiles, the desert blooming, the reunification of Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the cities of Israel. It will all lead to the final redemption and Israel being a light unto the nations.”