For the week ending 14 June 2014 / 16 Sivan 5774

Ta'anit 2 - 8

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • When we start mentioning the praise for rain
  • The Divine power expressed in rain
  • The three keys – rain, childbirth and resurrection of dead
  • Learning from lulav or from water libations
  • Why dew and winds don't have to be mentioned in our prayers
  • Clouds and winds before and after rain
  • Sensitivity of the Torah scholars
  • Those whose requests were improper
  • When we begin and end praying for rain
  • The yoreh and malkosh seasons of rain
  • The awful famine in days of Prophet Yoel and its happy end
  • Jerusalem's twin in Heaven
  • The many dialogues between Rabbi Nachman and Rabbi Yitzchak
  • The parable of blessing a lifesaving tree
  • The three stages of reviah rain and their significance
  • What constitutes Heavenly withholding of rain
  • The blessing on the first rain
  • How great is the day of rain
  • The importance of partners for Torah study
  • Why Torah is compared to water and other liquids
  • When rain is withheld as punishment
  • Why some people find learning difficult
  • The confrontation with the serpent in the end of days
  • The importance of faithfulness
  • When both plague and drought strike on which to focus our prayers
  • The pros and cons of rain

The Danger of Deception

  • Ta’anit 4a

When Eliezer, the trusted servant of the Patriarch Avraham, went on his mission to find a wife for his master's son Yitzchak, he made himself a test by which to determine which young woman had been designated by Heaven for this role. He would ask for a drink from the water she had drawn and if she would generously offer to provide water for his camels as well that would be the sign he needed from Heaven that she was the right soul-mate for Yitzchak.

In our gemara there is criticism of Eliezer for making such a sign. What if the young lady he approached would be missing a leg or was otherwise physically flawed but supplied the right answer, would this be a proper shidduch for his master's son?

On the surface there seem to be no grounds for such criticism. Eliezer would ostensibly notice whether the girl he saw fetching water walked with a prominent limp and not consider her as a candidate for his self-designed test. Why, then, was he wrong?

Tosefot deals with this problem and suggests that it was very possible that a girl wearing a concealed false leg could appear to be in perfect shape and that Eliezer was therefore faulted for not being more careful in his investigation of the physical condition of the candidate for his test.

One of the great halachic authorities of the previous century referred to the point made by Tosefot in a halachic response to a question posed to him. Upon discovering that the woman he had promised to marry had a wooden leg, the man decided to end the relationship on the grounds that he had been deceived. The woman claimed that he must certainly have been aware of her handicap since they walked together. The danger of deception presented by Tosefot was cited as an argument against her.

What the Sages Say

"If you see a Torah scholar get excited over something, it is the Torah which is boiling in him." (He has a sensitivity as a result of his Torah study and therefore takes things to heart more than others, so we are told to judge him favorably. – Rashi)

  • The Sage Rava - Ta’anit 4a

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