The Talmud, by Joseph Barclay, , at sacred-texts.com
When Rain is to be prayed forProclamations for FastingCeremonial of FastingPrayersBlowing of TrumpetsR. Gamaliel and R. MeierSign of FaminePartial RainPestilenceStory of Hone HammeagalLifting up of HandsDeputiesBringing WoodFive things happened in Tammuz and five in AbMortificationsRejoicings.
1. When do we remember in prayer the heavy rain?" Rabbi Eleazar said, "from the first holiday of the feast (of tabernacles)," Rabbi Joshua said "from the last holiday of the feast." To him said Rabbi Joshua, "when the rain is no mark of blessing in the feast, why should one remember it?" Said Rabbi Eleazar to him, "even I did not say to ask for it, but to remember the blowing of the wind, and the descent of the rain in its season." He replied to him, "if so, one can remember it always."
2. We ask for rain only near to the season of rains. Rabbi Judah said, 1 "he who passes last before the ark on the last holiday of the feast of tabernacles remembers it; the first does not remember it. On the first holiday of the passover the first remembers it, the last does not remember it." How long do we ask for rain? Rabbi Judah said, "till the pass-over be ended." Rabbi Meier said, "till Nisan depart, 2 as is said, 3 'And He will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.'"
3. On the third day of Marchesvan 4 we ask for the rain. Rabban Gamaliel said, "on the seventh, fifteen days after the
feast, that the last Israelite returning home from the feast may reach the river Euphrates."
4. If the seventeenth day of Marchesvan arrive, and the rain does not come down?" "Men of eminence begin to fast for three days. They may eat and drink by night. And they may work, and wash, and anoint themselves, and put on their sandals, and use their couches."
5. "If the first day of the month Chislev 1 arrive, and the rain does not come down?" "The tribunal proclaims three fast-days 2 for the congregation. Persons may, however, eat and drink by night. And they may work, and wash, and anoint themselves, and put on their sandals, and use their couches."
6. "If these days pass over, and there be no answer?" "The tribunal proclaims three other fast-days for the congregation. Persons may, however, eat and drink while it is still day. But they are forbidden work, and washing, and anointing, and putting on sandals, and the use of the couch. And the baths are locked up." "If these days pass over, and there be no answer?" "The tribunal proclaims for them seven more; these are altogether thirteen fast-days for the congregation." "And what are these fast-days more than the first six?" "Because during them men blow with the trumpets and lock up their shops." On Monday they can half open them at dark. But on Thursday they may open them for honour to the approaching Sabbath.
7. "If these days pass over, and there be no answer?" "People diminish business, building, planting, betrothals and marriages, and salutations of peace between man and his friend, as children of men ashamed before OMNIPRESENCE." The men of eminence have again recourse to fasting, till Nisan be ended. If Nisan be ended, and the rain comes down, it is a mark of cursing, as is said, 3 "Is it not wheat harvest to-day?" etc.
158:1 i.e. The Chazan that prays Musaph.
158:2 Nisan corresponded partly to March and April.
158:3 Joel ii. 23.
158:4 Marchesvan corresponded partly to October and November.
159:1 Part of November and part of December.
159:2 The fast-days of strict Pharisees were Mondays and Thursdays, because on a Thursday Moses went up to Mount Sinai, and returned on a Monday with the second Tables of the Law.
159:3 1 Sam. xii. 17.