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Taanis 3:8-9

Taanis 3:8

Shofar is blown for any crisis a community might face except for too much rain. It once happened that the people asked Choni Ham’agel to pray that rain might fall. He told them to bring in the ovens used for their Passover offerings to keep them from being ruined by the rain. He prayed but rain didn’t fall. He then drew a circle and stood inside it, praying, "Creator of the world! Your children have turned to me as someone favored by You. I swear by Your great Name that I will not move from this spot until You have compassion on Your children!" A light rain began to fall. Choni said, “This isn’t what I asked for, but rather rain to fill the wells, cisterns, and caves!” Rain then began to fall violently. He said, “Not this, either, did I request, but gentle, pleasant and generous rains!” Rain then began to fall in the usual manner. It continued to do so until the people of Jerusalem were forced to go from the city to the Temple mount because of the rain. They said to Choni, “Just as you prayed that it should rain, now please pray that it should stop!” He refused, saying “Go see if the even hato’im (a certain large boulder) has been washed away!” [This was not a serious instruction on his part; it was evident that the stone had not been moved by the rains.] Shimon ben Shetach sent word to Choni saying, “If you weren’t Choni, I would have you excommunicated but what can I do seeing that you sin against God and He forgives you. Not only that, He indulges you like a favorite child who sins against his father but is nevertheless forgiven and indulged. Proverbs 23:25 applies to you: ‘Your father and mother will rejoice, and the one who conceived you will be glad.’”

Taanis 3:9

If, during a fast, rain falls before sunrise, they do not continue fasting the entire day, but they do if rain fell after sunrise. Rabbi Eliezer says that if rain falls before noon they do not continue fasting the entire day, but if rain fell after noon, they do. It once happened that a fast for rain was decreed in Lod and it rained before noon. Rabbi Tarfon told the people to go celebrate. The people ate, drank and celebrated. In the evening they returned and sang Hallel HaGadol (“the great praise,” i.e., Psalm 136).

Author: Rabbi Jack Abramowitz