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    The rain in Spain – Ekev

    The portion compares Israel with other countries. The differences are graphic, and they include the abundant supply of water in other lands and the constant water problems that Israel has always suffered (Deut. 11:10-13).

    In a passage that has become the second paragraph of the Sh’ma, the Torah tells us that rain is the reward for obeying the Divine commandments.

    The tractate of Ta’anit intensifies the discussion on its opening page when it insists that there is a key that unlocks the supply of rain, and God keeps control of that key.

    Our dependence on rain has created a branch of Jewish theology that may worry some people. Jewish theology links righteousness with rain (Rabbi Ammi ben Natan says, “Rain descends only on account of those who have faith” – Ta’anit 8a); but the critics cannot see the logic in the linkage.

    The debate has been going on for centuries and will undoubtedly continue to accompany us for the rest of history.

    One thing, though, no-one can possibly quarrel with – the need to husband our water resources and indeed every part of the natural environment. It is so easy to be irresponsible and to despoil and waste what we have. We can argue of course that the earth is ours and we can do what we like with it. The danger is that future generations will blame us for being selfish and unfair.

    When Eliza Doolittle speaks abut the rain in Spain being mainly in the plain, it’s not only a useful exercise in enunciation but also a valuable moral lesson.

    Unless we concern ourselves with the effect of the rain on the plain and everywhere else, both in this generation and in time to come, human life will lose its quality and its survival power.

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