Eighteen Treatises from the Mishna, by D. A. Sola and M. J. Raphall, , at sacred-texts.com
§ 1. From what time is the mention of God's power, as manifested in the descent of rain, to be commenced [in the prayers]? R. Eleazar says from the first day of tabernacles; R. Joshua says from the last day of that festival: for said R. Joshua to [R. Eleazar], "Since the descent of rain on the festival of tabernacles is to be considered an unpropitious event, 1 why should it be mentioned [in the prayers]?"
[paragraph continues] To this R. Eleazar answered, "I also am not of opinion that they should be prayed for, 2 but only that they should be mentioned with the words, 'Thou causedst the wind to blow, and the rain to descend in its proper time.'" "If so," replied R. Joshua, "this mention might be made at all seasons of the year."
§ 2. Prayers for rain are not to be said sooner than shortly before the commencement of the rainy season. R. Jehudah says, "The last 3 of the ministers of the congregation who on the last day of the feast of tabernacles officiates at the reading-desk [תיבה], shall mention the rain, 4 but not he who officiates first. 5 On the first day of Passover the first minister still mentions it, but not he who officiates last." 6 Till how long is the rain to be prayed for? R. Jehudah says till after the Passover; R. Meir says till the month of Nissan is passed, because it is said [Joel ii. 23], "And he will cause to come down for you the rain, the early rain and the late rains in the first month."
§ 3. On the third of Mar-Cheshvan 7 prayers for the rain are to be said, 8 but according to Rabbon Gamaliel, on the seventh of the same month, namely, fifteen days after the feast of tabernacles, in order that the last Israelites might have reached the river Euphrates. 9
§ 4. If the seventeenth of Mar-Cheshvan has come without the rain having yet descended, private individuals 10 commence to keep three fast-days, 11 on the preceding nights of which it is lawful to eat and drink, to work [on the fast-day], to bathe, to anoint the body, to wear [leathern] shoes, and to perform the marriage duty.
§ 5. If the new moon of Kislev has arrived without the rain having yet descended, the tribunal of justice [בית דין] shall order three public and general fast-days, on which it is lawful to eat and drink on the nights preceding them, to work [on the days of the said fasts] to bathe, to anoint the body, to wear [leathern] shoes, and to perform the marriage duty.
§ 6: When these have passed, without their prayers having been favourably answered, the Beth Din shall decree three more public and general fasts, on which it will be lawful to eat and drink on the nights preceding them; but on which it is prohibited to work, to bathe, anoint the body, wear [leathern] shoes, and to perform the marriage duty, the [public] bathing places are also to be closed. Should these fasts also have passed over without their prayers having been favourably answered, the Beth Din shall decree seven more fast-days, which altogether make thirteen public and general fasts, these last fasts differ from the [six] preceding, inasmuch as on them an alarm is sounded [on the shophar], and the shops remain closed, excepting that on Mondays, towards the evening, the shop-shutters [of those who sell articles of food] may be [loosely] leaned on [that is, not fully closed, but in a slanting position], and on Thursdays, they may be entirely taken off, in honour of the [approaching] Sabbath.
§ 7. When these have also passed without their prayers having been favourably answered, they are to lessen or withdraw themselves from engaging in joyful transactions, the erecting of buildings, and planting of gardens for pleasure; from betrothings, weddings, and mutual greetings, like men who are under the displeasure of the Almighty; [pious] private individuals recommence fasting till the end of the month Nissan. When Nissan has elapsed without 12 rain
it must be considered as a curse, for thus it is written [1 Sam. xiii. 17], "Is it not wheat harvest to day? I will call unto the Lord, and he shall send thunder and rain." 13
167:1 See Treatise Succah, chap. II. § 9.
168:2 That is, in express terms, such as, "Grant that the rain may descend," &c., but only as it were incidentally mentioned.
168:3 Namely, he who reads the מוסף [Additional Service]. See our eighth note page 165, Treatise Rosh Hashanah.
168:4 That is, commence to say in the prayers, משיב הרוח ומוריד הגשם, "Causing the wind to blow and the rain to descend."
168:5 That is, he who reads the שחרות [Morning Prayers], in the Amidah of which he is not to mention about rain, [משיב הרוח, &c.]
168:6 That is, משיב הרוח is still said in the Amidah of שחרית, but not in the מוסף Prayer.
168:7 The word מר [Mar] prefixed to the name of the month, is to denote the commencement of the rainy season in Palestine, or because the word in signifies "a drop."
168:8 In Palestine the prayer alluded to is that commencing ברך עלינו, in which rain is prayed for in express terms.
168:9 This treats of Israelites who used annually to come to Jerusalem to celebrate the festivals, on the termination of which they returned to their homes out of the Holy Land; prayers for rain were not said till fifteen days after the festival, that they might have time to reach the Euphrates [which bounds Palestine towards the north], without being hindered by the rain on their homeward journey.
169:10 Namely, particularly pious individuals, not the general body of the nation.
169:11 Namely, Monday, Thursday, and the following Monday.
169:12 This is translated according to the text of the Mishna; but the corrected readings have ואם וירדו [not ואם ולא ירדו], "If Nissan has elapsed and rain falls," &c.: that this is the true reading, is evident from the text adduced as proof, in which the Israelites are threatened with a fall of rain.
170:13 All the preceding texts for rain, apply solely to the Holy Land, and countries of the same climate.